Being a member of multiple marginalized groups increases the likelihood of experiencing discrimination. So far, my blogs have addressed sexism, but many women who deal with sexism also must face the challenges of dealing with other forms of bias or discrimination, such as racism. Many of them not only face sexism from white society, but also from within their own cultures (Chavez, 2011). Being a black, Jewish male creates a double whammy in terms of chances of being discriminated against. If you were an uneducated Romani gypsy working as a street musician, you may also be more likely to encounter bias and discrimination.
Discrimination has a negative effect on income, education, and mental health in marginalized groups (Araujo, & Borrell, 2006). Many people, especially those from privileged groups, believe that a policy of being color blind can create equal treatment – if we treat everyone equally, then life will be fair.
But let’s consider another perspective…
Rather than treating everyone equally, society needs to recognize that some groups are at a disadvantage and policies and procedures need to be developed that can even out the advantage (Sue, 2004). In other words, equity should be the focus, rather than equality.
If we treat everyone equally, then some people still have an advantage in life.
I used to believe that if we treated everyone the same then life would be fair for everyone. It never occurred to me that to have true fairness, people with a disadvantage need to be given an edge to balance out the current disadvantages. Balancing the playing field does not necessarily amount to supporting reverse discrimination. It’s not discrimination if it’s creating equity.
And that’s just one more perspective on life!
Araujo, B. Y., & Borrell, L. N. (2006). Understanding the link between discrimination, mental health outcomes, and life chances among latinos. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 28(2), 245-266.
Chavez, M. (2011, July 5). Latina struggles: Challenges within the culture [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2011/07/05/latina-struggles-challenges-within-the-culture/