From Prejudice To Discrimination Essay, Research Paper
FROM PREJUDICE TO DISCRIMINATION
A prejudice is an unjustified negative attitude toward a group, a category of people, or a cultural practice. Prejudice against a group carries a strong emotional discomfort with, dislike of, or outright hatred of its members. Often it is based on a negative stereotype that resists rational argument. Some prejudices come from experience, such as unpleasant or baffling encounter with someone from another ethnic group. Many prejudices are passed along from parents to children, in messages that say ?We don?t associate with people like that,? sometimes without either generation having ever met the object of their dislike. Some come from the images that the media convey, for instance, of men and women, blacks and whites, young and old. Once people have formed attitudes in general, and prejudices in particular, they are reluctant to change their minds for several reasons:
1) The cognitive payoff, 2) The social payoff, 3) The economic payoff, 4) The psychological payoff.
People cling to some attitudes like life preservers but they are persuaded to give up others. The more payoffs there off for maintaining an attitude, the more resistant it will be to change. The different casual connections between attitudes and behavior can be seen clearly in the case of prejudice. In some cases, the attitude (prejudice) leads to behavior (discrimination). Discrimination may be subtle, as when a person refuses to associate with targets of the prejudice. It may be accepted social practice, as when members of one group refuse to hire or promote people who are different from them. In extreme cases, it can take the form of efforts to control or exterminat
members of the group. In the United States, prejudice has led to the lynching of blacks, bombing of synagogues, the massacre of Native Americans, the illegal imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the harassment of homosexuals, and other violent acts against minority groups. But sometimes people who have prejudiced attitudes are prevented from discriminating because of the law, or social convention, or other interests. Even people with no prejudices may nevertheless discriminate in their behavior. Custom, role requirements, or even the law causes them to treat people in ways they would prefer not to.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
Throughout United States history many other groups have suffered racial and religious discrimination. Since Europeans first came to America, Native Americans have been forcibly deprived of their lands and denied civil rights. Congress enacts the Indian Civil Rights Act in 1968, and the Federal courts have entertained a number of suits designed to restore to Native American Tribes ancestral lands and hunting and fishing rights. Discrimination has taken many different forms. For many years Urban voters were denied equal representation in Congress and State Legislatures; the elderly have been faced with discrimination in employment and housing, despite federal and state laws designed to prevent such practices. Former prisoners and mental patients have suffered from legal disabilities after their terms of confinement ended. And some aliens have been denied equal employment opportunities. People with Physical disabilities have ensures discrimination in employment and access to
public facilities and transportation. The Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 addressed these problems on the national lever.
Discrimination against Homosexual?s
A widespread form of discrimination exists against homosexuals, who historically endured prejudice because of social and sexual taboos. Few state or local laws exists to protect rights of lesbians and gay men against discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not protect private homosexual relations among consenting adults. This decision led to aggressive action by the gay community to counteract prejudice and to lobby for legal protections. In response, conservative groups in some states sought to ban local anti-discrimination laws that protected gay people. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the states could not deny basic civil rights protections to homosexuals.
Discrimination against Foreigners and Minorities
Most nations practice discrimination against foreigners and disfavored minorities within their borders. It may be religious, such as Protestants against Roman Catholics or Muslims against Jews or Muslims against Jews. Racial as in the apartheid policy that was enforced in South Africa from 1948 t0 1992; or sexual discrimination, as the laws of each country should be the means of combating discrimination but often these efforts to combat discriminatory practices. International efforts to combat discrimination were minimal until the passage of the United Nations (UN) Chapter in 1945.
One of the chapter?s purposes is to encourage ?Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as the race, sex, language, or religion?. A broad statement of human rights is contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed by the UN General Assembly in 1948, but it does not have a binding effect on member states. Later, the General Assembly passed the Covenant on Civil and political rights, as well as specific conventions on the prevention and punishment of genocide and on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. Although a majority of nations have signed the covenants, the U.S. has not yet done so. The major obstacle to international protection of human rights is the most nations will not accept any interference with their affairs, including questions of discrimination against their own citizens. To a modest degree these bodies such as the European Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Although many claim we live in an age of enlightenment, discrimination in the workplace remains prevalent. When employment decisions are based on an employees race, sex, religion, the impact is felt on many levels. Economically, qualified employees are denied decent jobs, advancement and the ability to maintain and pursue a quality discrimination degrades, abuses, belittles ad destroys one?s self-esteem. Both federal and state laws decisions based on a person?s sex, race, creed, religion, national origin, age and physical impairments. Moreover, laws prohibiting discrimination are not only concerned with the hiring and firing process. Disparate treatment of employees with respect to the terms and condition of their employment
is also forbidden. Harassment in the workplace based on the race or employees who are actually bound to eradicate hostile environments may not tolerate sex.
Although there are numbers of federal laws which address equal employment opportunities, most employment discrimination cases are brought under the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1904. While the 1964 Act clearly prohibited workplace discrimination, it did not adequately address the needs of victims or the economic hurdles one faces in seeking redress for a violation of his or her rights. On November 21,1991, the President George Bush signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The 1991 Act had a drastic effect on employment discrimination cases. Several obstacles which victims faced in pursuing employment claims were removed. The Act better recognized the full extent of losses which a victim suffers and allowed for compensation or both the economic and emotional impact of discrimination.
For a victim of discrimination there are four steps that are highly recommended to follow 1). Make it clear orally and /or in writing, to the discriminator that his/her conduct is unwelcome. 2). Report incidents of discrimination to your supervisor or the person designated to receive complaints. 3). Document each incident of discrimination. 4). There are time limits for pursing a claim of discrimination with both federal and state agencies and in court. A failure to commerce a charge of discrimination within the applicable time limit will, in most cases, bar the victim?s right to seek redress.
The effects of economic discrimination can be devastating for women. In 1996, women in the United States made seventy-five cents for every dollar that men earned. For the 46.3 million American men aged twenty-five to sixty-four years, the median income is $31,200. For the 35 million women in the same age group, median income is $23,000.
Because of the great difference in women and men?s wages, many women are condemned to poverty and are forced to accept welfare and its accompanying stigma. Wage differentials are especially important to single women. Single mothers who are usually responsible for supporting them head Twenty-three percent of all families. In 1993, 54.1 percent of these families made less than $15,000 a year; 19 percent made less than $5,000.
Women face considerable barriers in their access to well paying, higher status jobs (Bergen, 1991). Although employment and pay discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law did not end the pay discrepancy between men and women. Much of the earnings gap is the result of occupational differences, gender segregation, and women?s tendency to interrupt their employment for family reasons and to take jobs that do not interfere extensively with their family lives. Earnings are about 30 to 50 percent higher in traditionally male occupations, such as truck driver or corporate executive, than in predominantly female or sexually integrated occupations, such as secretary or schoolteacher. The more an occupation is dominated by women, the less it pays.
APRIL S. FRASIER
RACIAL AND CULTURAL MINORITY
DECEMBER 9, 1999