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Discrimination is one of the most common social evils in modern society. Kahane and Shmanske (2012, p. 65) define discrimination as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” It is a perception that a certain group of people is inferior because of characteristics that make them different from the other groups. As shown in the above definition, discrimination is unjust because it involves classifying a given group of people based on characteristics that make them look unfit to be part of the rest of the group. It only focuses on prejudicial weaknesses and ignores the strengths of that group. For instance, gender discrimination is often based on the fact that women are physically weak compared with men.
However, what society forgets is that there are so many women who are physically stronger than men. We also ignore the intellectual and emotional power that women have over men. According to Nachmani (2010), discrimination is common in all parts of the world. In any environment where there is diversity, different forms of discrimination are often common. It may be on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, social practices, or academic qualification. Even in an environment where people share a lot in common, trivial issues such as height, weight, and level of attractiveness, among others, are often used to classify people as being either superior or inferior to the rest of the group. Discrimination is the biggest threat to effective integration within the community. In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine the causes, effects, and types of discrimination and give suggestions on how to address this problem.
Causes of Discrimination
According to Kahane and Shmanske (2012), discrimination is primarily caused by an inferiority complex that some people often have. It is the feeling that one is inadequate and hence wants to convince sent that there are others who are worse than them. Such people would pick characteristics in other people that make them look inferior. As Bryan (2010) says, as human beings, there are so many things that make us common than those that make us different. At a tender age, children get to interact without understanding that they are different in any way. Factors such as skin color, religion, and social class, among other things, make no sense to these children at that tender age because of the purity of their hearts. However, the moment the sense of belonging and the desire to be seen as the best set in, people start to look at diversity from a completely different angle. They start looking at diversity as a factor that should make one group superior to the other. Another major cause of discrimination is greed. The desire to have the best at the expense of the rest has forced humankind to come up with ways of making that possible. Through discrimination, they are able to justify why they can have the best while the rest do not.
In the United States, the best schools, hospitals, and social amenities were meant for the Whites. In the past, most of the countries in the Arab World, such as the United Arab Emirates did not allow women to work. This is a deliberate strategy to ensure that a section of the society is denied what is important to them simply because they are different. In the modern society, politics is seen as a major cause of discrimination. Sometimes politicians use discrimination to help them identify with the majority as a way of getting acceptance. In the recently closed presidential elections in the United States, Donald Trump identified with the Whites who are the majority in the country. He made them feel more entitled to the country than African Americans or other immigrants. It was not shocking that through that immoral strategy, he was able to win the election. He was able to appeal to the society that has historically embraced discrimination even after the country’s forefathers promised unity.
Effects of Discrimination
According to Portilla (2016), discrimination is one of the most dangerous social evils that are affecting many societies across the world. Currently, the entire region of Middle East is struggling with the problem of ISIS because of discrimination. It is because a section of the society feels that they are special and therefore deserve the best while others get less. For people to form a group that causes death and terror to others, the only possible reason is that they feel left out in the systems and structures within the society. Discrimination creates a scenario where a section of the society feels that they lack the sense of belonging. They feel hated and looked down upon by the rest of the society. In returning the hate to the same society, they organize themselves into groups whose primary goal is to cause terror, pain, and suffering to those they believe are hurting them. Bryan (2010) explains that discrimination creates disunity. It creates an environment where people cannot speak with one voice. They cannot work as a unit to achieve a common goal. Without such unity, it is almost impossible for people to join hands to achieve a common goal. According to Nachmani (2010), discrimination tends to create weaknesses in a section of the society.
When one is brought up believing that he or she is weak because of the socio-cultural or natural characteristics, then one is likely to believe that it is the truth. As such, the discriminated may fail to work hard to create a better society. In the United Arab Emirates for instance, most of the women still believe that their place is at home with their family. As such, talented brains are wasted instead of being put into use in a way that may be beneficial to the community. A study by Portilla (2016) found out that discrimination is one of the primary reasons why some people act against their own states either as spies or terrorists. The sense of nationalism disappears when one feels that the society sees them as less deserving. They develop a desire to punish the state because of the rejection.
Types of Discrimination
Discrimination may be exhibited in different ways. The most common type is the gender discrimination. This is the prejudicial belief that men are better than women within a social setting. It is the belief that men deserve to be treated with more respect than women. This is a common problem almost in every part of the world. In the United Arab Emirates and its neighboring countries, leadership is in the tight grip of men. In the corporate world, men are dominant over women not because women cannot be successful but because they are discriminated against by the society. In the mosques, women are not expected to lead as Imams because the society believes such an important role can only be held by a man. Gender discrimination is not just common in this country. The United States has never elected a female president for the last 240 years that it has been an independent state (Weil, Lentz, & Evans, 2016). The same is the case in Russia, China, and Japan. Racial discrimination is another big problem, especially in the United States.
The perception that Whites are superior to other races has caused many social injustices since the country gained independence. The problem is common in the global society. Religious difference is a form of discrimination that has been persistent for the last several years. It has been difficult to create a unified society where people from different faiths can believe that they belong together and should be committed to working towards a common societal goal. Discrimination on the ground of one’s social status is one of the forms of segregation that has existed for centuries. In the past, caste system was common in many kingdoms. Civilization was believed to be a tool that would help solve this problem. However, that has not been the case. Social status remains one of the most common factors that classify people into different group. The rich has a class of their own that guarantees them the best in the society at the expense of the poor. Age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, and nature of one’s career are the other common types of discrimination.
History of Discrimination
Discrimination can be traced back to the origin of mankind as told in most of the history and religious books. Both the bible and Quran clearly state that Man was created first and given authority over everything (Ñopo, Chong, & Moro, 2010). Woman was created from one of the ribs of a man and was given the primary responsibility of being an assistant to man. From those olden days, women were viewed as being inferior to men and expected to be their subordinates at all time. During civilization, kingdoms fought for power and control. People from powerful kingdom would attack the weaker kingdoms and take slaves. The emergence of the social classes during the civilization period entrenched the vice of discrimination. Slaves were viewed as people who lacked entitlement even to their own life. A slave owner could do anything to his or her slaves as the society considered it normal. The Egyptian Empire, Roman Empire, Greek Empire, the Han Empire, and many other great kingdoms entrenched discrimination through social class systems.
During the industrial revolution, discrimination became a perfect tool for the rich and powerful to amass more wealth and power. The societal forces gave them a blessing to use their power to use the weak and poor for their own selfish gains. In Australia, for instance, the aboriginals were regarded as inferior to the White immigrants simply because they lacked Western education and that they were Blacks. In the Arab world, the idea that women are supposed to be subordinate to men never changed. In the modern world, discrimination is still common. A study by Bryan (2010) found out that most companies in the United Arab Emirates prefer hiring locals than expatriates. That in itself is a form of discrimination. In the United States, White police officers have killed so many African Americans because they are believed to be dangerous. Although things have improved, the problem still exists.
How to Regulate and Control Discrimination
It is the responsibility of every member of the society to fight discrimination from any angle possible. Various stakeholders in various capacities have different roles in this fight against discrimination. The government should come up with laws and regulations that criminalized discrimination in the workplace. Laws should also be enacted that prohibits any form of discrimination in social setting on the basis of race, religion, gender, and marital status among others. Firms should be subjected to a new regulation that requires them to monitor and combat any form of discrimination in the society. Companies that fail to adhere to these regulatory procedures should be subject to fines.
The managers should be informed that they may risk jail terms if they aid, abet, or ignore discrimination at their institutions. Members of the public should also understand that they have a role to play in controlling or completely eradicating discrimination. People should appreciate and embrace diversity as something that empowers the society. Diversity makes it possible for people to take advantage of their varying skills, strengths, and knowledge to help achieve a common goal. The society must appreciate that one’s weaknesses can be addressed by strengths of the other and that can only happen if we embrace integration, not discrimination. Skin color, religion, age, sex, or social status should not be the grounds for discrimination. Everyone should develop a burden of working towards a united society.
Bryan, W. V. (2010). Sociopolitical aspects of disabilities: The social perspectives and political history of disabilities and rehabilitation in the United States. Springfield, MA: Charles C Thomas Publisher.
Kahane, H., & Shmanske, S. (2012). The Oxford handbook of sports economics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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Nachmani, A. (2010). Europe and its Muslim minorities: Aspects of conflict, attempts at accord. Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic.
Ñopo, H., Chong, A., & Moro, A. (2010). Discrimination in Latin America: An economic perspective. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.
Portilla, K. (2016). Redressing everyday discrimination: The weakness and potential of antidiscrimination law. New York, NY: Cengage.
Weil, L., Lentz, G., & Evans, A. (2016). Litigation services handbook: The role of the financial expert. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.