Life from an outsider's perspective…

Discrimination is second nature.

Sexual harassment or discrimination?

Every time you select a piece of fruit, based on the condition of its skin, you’re judging the contents. No one likes to eat a soggy banana or a rotten apple. We’ve come to learn that if  a banana is bruised & blackened on the outside, inside is most likely a soggy fruit mush. 

Even 3 year old children know the difference is in the taste. They won’t eat it. Although sometimes, despite multiple bruises and other exterior imperfections, the interior is not as bad as we think; we are rewarded by what we find inside – 100% intact fruit! Succulent, delicious. Generally though, after years of practice, we learn to judge fruit correctly…

There are two ways of describing this situation:

  1. Some might say I am discriminating against all fruit with a certain type of skin (be it the colour or the texture); I am pre-judging, I am being critical.
  2. Others might say that I have a distinguished, discerning or refined sense of taste; I am a perceptive, particular and sensitive person.

One of these sentences contains positive statements whilst the other definitely has negative connotations. Clearly, something is wrong, and I think you’ll easily spot the pattern in the words below-

Synonyms for the adjective “discriminating”:

analytical, astute, authentic, canny, careful, choosy, clever, correct, cultivated, defined, definite, detailed, discerning, distinct, distinctive, distinguish, eclectic, exacting, exact, explicit, genuine, incisive, ingenious, insightful, intuitive, factual, faithful, fastidious, finicky, fussy, judicious, just, keen, literal, methodical, meticulous, observant, particular, picky, proper, prudent, refined, right, rigorous, scientific, scrupulous, selective, sensitive, skillful, smart, specific, strict, subtle, systematic, tasteful, true, unerring, unmistakable, veracious, wise.

Synonyms for the verb “to discriminate”:

assess, be bigot, brand, categorise, classify, collate, compare, contrast, delineate, designate, differentiate, discern, draw distinction, evaluate, extricate, disfavor, favor, hate, incline, judge, pigeonhole, know, note, be partial, perceive, portray, remark, segregate, separate, set apart, show bias, single out, specify, split hairs, tell apart,treat differently,  typecast, victimize.

So we can describe someone as being discriminate or discriminating, but the act of discriminating against something without enough knowledge is forbidden.

With people, behaviour has nothing whatsoever to do with the colour of their skin or their shape. What’s most important is their environment. People are unique. Every single person on this planet has their own individual identity. All throughout our lives, we are continuously moulded by our family, our peers, our heroes, our ideals & our morals (or lack thereof). We assimilate conversations and absorb reactions. We essentially become new people.

In our epoch of choice, there are more identities and personality types than we have ever seen before. Sometimes it becomes hard to place someone, other than to say that their choices are “ecclectic”. And with the age of the internet, who isn’t in some sense at least, eccentric?

A person’s true personality is revealed in greater detail with repeated communication. We all know that to really get to know somebody takes time. But in today’s world, we don’t have nearly enough time to thoroughly evaluate what’s needed. Sometimes we don’t even know ourselves. There isn’t even enough time in a single day to say a simple “hello” to everyone you meet or pass by in the street. How can anyone know anybody properly all of a sudden? It becomes impossible.

So in life, we need to take shortcuts. Here’s a blindingly obvious one: If you had to ask someone the time, would you ask the skinhead with multiple facial piercings & tattoos up and down his/her entire body OR someone whose appearance seems more respectable, more “normal” (whatever that means today), wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt for example.

Possibly the skinhead is a nice guy. Maybe I’d go so far as to say they’re probably genuinely very nice. But there is that element of risk involved in confronting someone who concsiously chooses an identity that has an outwardly agressive appearance. This person is not holding up a sign saying “free hugs”, so they’re most likely not going to be approached by anyone else (who knows? maybe that’s the just way skinheads like to live). On the other hand, the “normal person” may in fact turn out to be a serial killer. One of those truly sick, insidious people. Casually asking for the time, you might be his last straw. You never know. You just never know.

Take the pepsi can with a dent. It has a history! There’s that always that slim chance it’ll explode in your face when you open it. Maybe it was dropped shortly after it was canned at the local pepsi HQ distribution center, or only a few days ago during local delivery; in either case it is safe enough. Although it could have been clumsily dropped when it was being shelved into the refridgerator only 5 minutes ago. I for one have learned from past experience that provided I can choose an intact can, dented ones are not worth the adventure. You’d have to be some kind of ignorant fool to go out of your way to choose another dented can if the last one you opened had exploded.

Once in a while though, it’s nice to have a “wait and see” attitude. Let the person or thing reveal themselves, and time will tell. Perhaps we might suprise ourselves…

Now what am I saying? What is the point of all this? I’m saying that discrimination is a natural tool which helps us to cut corners. But when cutting corners, we have to be careful as there is always the threat of danger. I’ll be the first one to admit that I discriminate most of the time. Yes, it’s true. I discriminate against lots of things- email subject titles that look like spam, sub-standard logos, and of course the ripeness of fruit. I’ve never peeled a green banana that tasted good.

Sometimes I even discriminate against certain people, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned that’s worse than discriminating against something, it’s being “indiscriminate”!

accidental, aimless, assorted, blind, broad, capricious, careless, casual, chance, chaotic, confused, desultory, directionless, drifting, erratic, fanciful, fickle, flighty, fortuitous, frivolous, general, goalless, haphazard, heedless, heterogeneous, hit-or-miss, ignorant, imperceptive, inattentive, inconsiderate, indecisive, indiscriminate, injudicious, insensitive, irresolute, jumbled, lacking in care or judgment, mingled, miscellaneous, mixed, mongrel, multifarious, myopic, nearsighted, neglectful, objectless, oblivious, pointless, promiscuous, purposeless, random,shallow, spot, stray, superficial, sweeping, thoughtless, thrown together, unavailing, unaware, unconscious, unconsidered, uncritical, undirected, undiscerning, undiscriminating, unguided, unmethodical, unmindful, unobservant, unplanned, unpredictable, unreasoning, unseeing, unselective, unsystematic, vagrant, wandering, wanton, wayward.

3 Responses to “Discrimination is second nature.”

  1. ‘Every time you select a piece of fruit, based on the condition of its skin, you’re judging the contents. No one likes to eat a soggy banana or a rotten apple.”

    A soggy, black banana is perfect for a banana smoothie, a banana cake, or fried bananas.

    possums eat rotten apples for breakfast…..!!!!!

    and I miss teaching the kids at the multicultual high school with 90 nationalities and lots of variety and culture……..
    this is my saying, a teacher’s perspective…….

    “there are only people. there is no colour, race or religion. There are only good people………… and teenagers with issues……..”

    Regards Michelle

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