Breaking the Barriers Discrimination
Breakingthe Barriers Discrimination
In the modern interconnected world characterized by intensivecommunication networks, people are increasingly aware of differencesin race, ethnicity, resources, sexuality, ability, gender, andreligious beliefs. Such heightened awareness of these differencesoffers individuals a chance to either respond positively bycelebrating the uniqueness or negatively by discriminating againstothers. Frequently, discrimination is the unwanted response where ittakes place either directly or indirectly. It can also be deliberateor unintentionally. Direct discrimination pertains to treatingindividuals unfavorably because they are different. Indirectdiscrimination occurs when unreasonable requirements, conditions orpractices are imposed on persons or a group because of theirattributes. Usually, the outcomes of discrimination are devastatingboth to the victims and the society as a whole. At school, victims ofdiscrimination may experience poor academic performance, violence,suicide, loneliness, and misunderstandings. With such direconsequences, discrimination must be stopped by all means. There aredifferent approaches to fighting discrimination in schools such aserecting barriers to the vice as well as being proactive. Creatingpublic awareness and providing necessary social support structuresare two of the most effective methods of fighting discrimination inand outside of school.
Before fightingdiscrimination, it is important first to understand how it occurs.Usually, discrimination occurs due to ignorance and prejudice.Creating public awareness on what does or does not comprisediscrimination will go a long way in fighting the vice. Teachers andinstitutions can be sources of indirect discrimination. For instance,most teachers assume that most homes in America are connected to theinternet. Consequently, "seven in 10 teachers now assignhomework that requires web access."1On the contrary, almost a third of elementary school learners inlow-income and rural neighborhoods have no access to the internet athome.2Such actions by the teachers equate to indirect discrimination basedon imperfect knowledge of the accessibility to broadband internet.Nonetheless, some teachers such as Sandra Guerra from McAllen schooldistrict have shown awareness of challenges in accessing the internetand have put in place measures to accommodate affected learners.3Thus, it becomes apparent that knowledge is critical in fightingdiscrimination. Knowledge and awareness have the potential to turnperpetrators of discriminating into defenders of victims.
Ideally, empowering students to embrace their differences and engagein cultural exploration helps in fighting discrimination. Creatingcultural awareness amongst students helps them to accept theirdifferences in a positive way. The case of Zarifeh, a young Muslimgirl who received support from her fellow schoolmates to win the PromQueen soon after a terror attack in her neighborhood, exemplifies theimportance of awareness. Zarifeh`s friends supported her by wearinghijabs in recognition of her religious choices. They also shunned thewidespread anti-Muslim backlash that followed the attacks.4Other students chose to show their support in a fun way by holdingballoons printed with "Don`t be a baddie, vote for the hijabi."5The case of Zarifeh shows that solidarity among students can be usedto address the threat of discrimination from the larger society.These young people have more similarities as students than theirracial and cultural differences. Therefore, schools should empowerlearners to embrace their similarities by organizing events andactivities through which they can celebrate their shared attributes.For instance, sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, andfootball will break cultural barriers and foster new levels ofunderstanding and friendship. In fact, one is likely to learn about anew culture from just one person who prescribes to it.
Personally, I haveobserved that opening new lines of friendship across cultural andracial divide broadens my perception of the world. I recall that inone study group for a mathematics class, I was to work with anAfrican and Asian guy among others. Deep down, I hated the subject,and I was poor in it. However, I expected the Asian guy to besuperior in the subject and befriended him hoping that he would helpme understand some tricky concepts. I had learned from interactionswith my friends and the media that Asians excelled in mathematics andsciences. Nonetheless, as the study group progressed in its task, Iwas surprised that it was the African guy from Nigeria who was moregifted in mathematics than the Asian and the rest of us. Thisrealization opened up my mind about racial stereotypes and theimportance of respecting people based on their personalities and notunfounded beliefs and race. For our society to effectively fight thisvice there is a need to deconstruct myths and stereotypes that havebeen around for many years. Therefore, young people must forge closerrelationships with peers from different backgrounds to deconstructexisting racial stereotypes. Thus, society needs to establish moreavenues that bridge the racial and cultural divides that will fosterunderstanding and fight discrimination. As human beings, we stand tobenefit more in working together to combat common challenges such asclimate change, global warming, than we would if each group workedindividually.
To summarize thediscussion, one can say that discrimination does not benefit anyonein the long-term. Cultural stereotyping, bullying, and discriminationrepresent lost opportunities that individuals could have used toenhance the human experience and address global challenges. Schoolsrepresent a unique opportunity to shape attitudes and perceptionstowards discrimination. The best and most sustainable approach iscreating awareness. People tend to hate what they do not understand.Thus, by creating more avenues for interactions, individuals willlearn about others and appreciate their uniqueness in a positivemanner. It is recommended that cultural exchange programs should beexpanded to address myths and stereotypes and increase culturalknowledge. Schools administrations should also embark on usingminority students as cultural icons that educate fellow learnersabout new religions and ethnicities. By understanding how otherindividuals live, their socioeconomic conditions, and beliefs, thereis little of chance of hating or discriminating against them.
Kang, Cecilia.“Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind.”The New York
Times. Feb. 22, 2016, accessed April2017,https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/technology/fcc-internet-access-school.html
Medina, Jennifer. “AFew Miles From San Bernardino, a Muslim Prom Queen Reigns.” TheNew
York Times. April 29, 2016, accessed April 6 2017,https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/technology/fcc-internet-access-school.html,
1 Cecilia Kang, “Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind,” The New York Times. Feb. 22, 2016, accessed April, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/technology/fcc-internet-access-school.html para., 10.
2. Ibid para 10.
3 Ibid para 25.
4 Jennifer Medina, “A Few Miles From San Bernardino, a Muslim Prom Queen Reigns,” The New York Times. April 29, 2016, accessed April 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/technology/fcc-internet-access-school.html, para. 5.
5 Ibid. para. 12.
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