What is Discrimination?

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What is Discrimination?

Throughout the history of mankind, society has always had various forms of classification and categorization. In most communities this was initiated to respond to various needs such as accomplishment of tasks. Once the task was accomplished, the group often remained together and gained a certain label or reputation. This continues to happen today though at a different level and scale. People of different backgrounds, races, religions, nationalities and social status have all come together. Just like in the past when groups were formed around particular activities such as warriors, elders, nobles, priests and slaves, modern society has also formed its own groupings around race, religion, nationality, gender and social status. Again, just like our ancestors we have taken up negative prejudices about others while believing in the superiority of our group.

Discrimination can basically be described as the unfair treatment of a group of people due to the prejudiced opinions that are held against them. Discrimination is simply as a result of being different. There are many people who have very strong sentiments about others simply because they are different and belong to a particular group or category. These groups and categories are considered inferior, unwanted and are the source of problems in society. The differences between the person discriminating and the victim could be real or simply perceived. Discrimination is greatly fueled by ignorance and those who know the least about others are the most likely to discriminate. They are afraid of what they do not know and instead of educating themselves take up discrimination in the hope that they will be able to keep others down.

Discrimination takes many forms and is present in many places. The most common kinds of discrimination in the world today are racial, ethnic, and religious. Discrimination occurs in almost any place that people from different backgrounds come together. It could be places of work, learning institutions, social places, public places and even in homes. In recent years, discrimination against women has greatly reduced as a result of many years of hard work and activism. Despite recording such great success there are still some parts of the world where women continue to suffer discrimination. Other forms of discrimination such as age, disability and pregnancy have also reduced a great deal. Racial, ethnic and religious discrimination may appear to have reduced but are actually hidden.

Most countries in the world have outlawed all or most forms of discrimination in their laws. This is one reason why unfair treatment has reduced though prejudices remain strongly rooted. In an attempt to deal with discrimination there have been occasions where reverse discrimination has taken place. In an attempt to empower women there have been situations where men have been disenfranchised. Creating women only work places is as bad a having a men only one. There have also been situations where the interests of the male child are completely neglected. Minority groups have also been allocated undeserved quota which deny other more qualified people the opportunity simply because they belong to a majority. Discrimination of any kind should be fought at all levels and when our society is able to live in equity, we shall truly be free.

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