One can define discrimination as any social act that produces unfair distribution of valued resources, and is either based on age, sex, race, tribal group or even social groups of individuals or groups. The pattern and perception of discrimination in the society has undergone diverse changes, having been overturned through the multifaceted sociopolitical change which comprised of prolonged social movement bustle aided by racial reform movements.
Consequently, the formal rules and activities which aided to bolster the prejudice tendencies have been immensely jettisoned. In addition, explicit deeds of discrimination on the part of holders of resource and gatekeepers, for example landlords, employers, schools and service providers amid others, have been isolated, although these acts mostly occur in more concealed and publicly deniable fashions.
Differential treatment of various segments of plural society is in every sense discriminatory. Because discrimination is manifested any time an individual shows a distinction in the way he treats others on the basis of their social, economic, racial or even political background. In order for an action to be deemed as discriminatory, a person has to show stereotypical tendencies by according people favor for who they are not what they have done. Through discrimination, prejudice becomes ripe and patent and an individual expresses overtly or inertly his partisan beliefs and attitudes towards a certain race, age group, gender and so forth.
For any act of discrimination to be adverse, it has to be cumulative and accretive over a certain time period, mostly over long intervals, its outcomes can be felt devoid of the presence of any active agent. A protracted, Transgenerational contact with resources highly valued in the society such as college degrees, highly coveted white color jobs and political honor is facilitated by being in the right racial group, gender or age. This becomes a clear indicator that somehow the society has a structured system through which a certain race is given preference over the other.
On the other note, being in the ‘wrong’ group impedes opportunities of education, good health, personal development and growth which in turn create low status amongst the lowly treated discriminated group. Ultimately, the lowly regarded group is regarded stereotypically as being lazy, angry or unruly.
The term discrimination is mired with innumerable paradoxes, prone to fallacy and easily contorted to elicit a different meaning all together. According to “in order for a discrimination action to occur, a person has to be treated less favorably by another in a comparable situation on the basis of their race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.” The issue of discrimination has been over publicized and this has caused the society to conceal it against the glaring eye of the public. The vice however continues to escalate despite the many hurdles it brings to the society.
The discriminatory attitude is seen when an individual is prejudiced because of a certain factor intrinsically found in them. People get discriminated not necessarily because they are not good enough or because they don’t fit in their immediate environment but because they have something different or unacceptable to the recipient. For instance, a woman can be discriminated in a work place not necessarily because she is not skilled enough but because she is working in a male dominated field.
Racial discrimination amount to a social action which segregates the society and creates a class factor where by the superior race gets the superior resources at the expense of the inferior races. When racial discrimination has had its roots in a society for a long time it becomes habitual and finally a social structure. The results of these acts of segregation in the social arrangement, people end up being handled differently in unseen ways for instance designs of tax policy, neighborhoods, or even in the writing of television news; it can also be portrayed in the way one is treated by a doctor, handled by the policeman, or how one is expected to speak the language.
Discrimination can either be direct or indirect. In direct discrimination, the biased individual does not make any effort to conceal his prejudice. His attitudes and action directly show that he does not favor certain people in preference to another group he favors. A good example is whereby an employer writes on a job advert “men only.” This means that he favors men over women and he does not conceal his attitude towards them. Direct discrimination has however been ebbing away gradually as people began fighting for their rights and championing change to minimize special treatments of people based on their origin, sex and creed.
The most commonly found discrimination in the society is indirect discrimination which is highly camouflaged as offering neutral options for both favored and disfavored group. In order for this practice to thrive a warped-up criteria or practice is employed in considering individuals for an opportunity. However, in the apparently neutral provision people get consideration on the basis of their race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation unless the practice can be objectively justified by a legitimate aim. A good illustration is seen when everybody is invited for a job interview and then the interviewees are short listed on the basis of their mother tongue.
Discrimination carries three main faces to it, because it can be either positive negative or systematic. As Barton notes:
“There are still many people, including employers, who believe that discrimination is part of the natural order and that it is a legitimate basis on which to deal with people.”
For example “the issue of segregation at work place whereby women will be allowed to work in masculine male dominated jobs like engineering to the public eye both to men and women it seems like a normal reaction yet in essence it’s a systematic discrimination”. The social systems and structures have been formulated to accommodate social fallacies hence stifling chances for the women to venture in such male branded jobs. A systematic corruption has got its invisible structures fastened so much in the society that the society at large hardly ever notices them. The structures stifle any efforts by the oppressed groups so that they are incapacitated and cannot easily access justice.
Positive discrimination as many would think is a far-fetched idea but it is ripe in the society. Positive discrimination which came to be as a result of affirmative action is generally practiced to neutralize the effects that the negative discrimination had on the society. People have both ascribed and achieved attributes which draw people to either approve them or disapprove them. Attributed traits are inborn and no one has power over them for instance being born a girl or a boy has nothing to do with and individual. Achieved traits are attained through hard work and discipline and they may include college education, a degree or a good profession. It is therefore deemed socially unfair to discriminate someone on basis of something they have no control over, something they cannot change like ageing, race and sex. Achieved traits are the basis through which positive discrimination comes in, because people have power over what they can achieve. As puts it:
“In America you are judged by what you can do, not by what you can’t control.”
“One would ask the reasoning behind positive and the logic of positive discrimination is that by being positively discriminated for what a person has not achieved his appetite to reach out and attain his goals is kindled compelling him to achieve what is socially acceptable”.
The plan of affirmative action is to evade the ill effects of negative steotypical discrimination which biased people on basis of their ascribed traits. For instance, there were schools which were originally dominated by white race, the other races had to achieve a higher score in order to join such a school through positive discrimination the whites are given less preference over the other races in order to balance the imbalanced society. “The strategy” says:
“Is to select people using the same acquired characteristics that originally brought disadvantage and by giving them special consideration, turn that acquired characteristic into a compensatory advantage. It is, in effect, using racism to combat racism, sexism to contest sexism.”
Through the affirmative action of positive racism, the damage done in the past is neutralized giving everybody a chance and opportunity to achieve their life goals.
Negative discrimination is prejudices based on what people have no control over. For instance, their age, sex, race and ethnic origin. Negative discrimination is a stereotype including racism, sexism and caste. “This kind of discrimination derives the society off fairness and justice so that people get what they don’t deserve because of their perceived ‘superiority’ over others”. As a result of this off-putting discrimination social structures are dented to accommodate the favors accorded to a certain group at the expense of the others. For instance, the political classes comprise of white males because the society prefers male leaders over women leaders and also whites have got educational advantages over the other races.
In the past, the innumerable races in America and ethnic groups faced a lot of discrimination and social segregation. There was pervasive and open denial of civil, social, political, educational, and economic opportunities. Hitherto a huge disparity amongst the racial, gender and ethnic groups continue to loom in areas of employment, wealth accumulation, education and criminal justice system. While the trends are gradually ebbing away giving room for fairness and justice to thrive in the society, their pushiness alludes to the fact that discriminatory treatment persists in the American society and it serves to emasculate achievement of equal opportunities in the society.