30 05 2008

Column: Why does discrimination continue to exist?

By Shayna Ramstad, The Republican Eagle

Red Wing, MN

May 29, 2008

http://www.republican-eagle.com/articles/index.cfm?id=50602§ion=Opinion

On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in an attempt to guarantee basic freedoms to all citizens of the United States of America.

Since that time, there have been several acts and laws put into place to ensure all people be treated fairly and not discriminated against.

Although these laws were put into place, why do I feel people are still discriminated against today? Written rules may enforce laws, but they cannot change the way people think and the values which have been instilled throughout their lives.

Discrimination starts at home.

Our views and values are learned from our parents through discussions and observations of actions. Discrimination is also fueled by the media, which portrays negative thoughts and views of people. We tend to agree with the media and trust it, whether it is true or not.

People who have learned to discriminate in their homes often carry this same thinking into the workplace and everyday society.

Not every act that’s unfair or unreasonable is illegal. To be considered unlawful under the Human Rights Act, the discrimination must have happened because of one of the following reasons: race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, disability, public assistance, age, sexual orientation, and local Human Rights Commission activity.

It is unfortunate that some people are discriminated against. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly at school, at work, and in the community. Everyone should have the right to be themselves as long as they are not hurting other people.

Yet, when people see others who are different from them, they often feel fear and confusion. Rather than discriminating when feeling fear, people should accept differences and educate themselves, giving people who are different from them a chance.

There is a Native American saying which says, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” Since we are not able to walk in other people’s shoes, we must gather enough information to try to understand what it is like to be the other person.

What can we do to end discrimination? Speak up!

Discrimination must be reported and not accepted. If we see discrimination happening, let people know right away that we are not wanting this to happen and we don’t accept it.

We can try to encourage our family to get to know people who are different from us, whether it be age, race, sex, ability, etc.

Don’t support discrimination by not speaking out against it. We should not assume someone else will take care of the problem, we should take it into our own hands. Within our own families, discuss the importance of treating each other fairly. Encourage our friends to do the same with their families.

Speak up against discrimination in our schools. Encourage your school to have a plan in place for discrimination issues, know the rules, and enforce them.

Discrimination still exists today. If we do not teach others the importance of not discriminating it will continue to exist. This teaching must start in the home. Teach our children to be accepting of differences. This will lead to a better world.

“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.

“If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.

“If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.

“If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” — Chinese proverb

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