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Moving Towards the Goal of Eliminating Discrimination

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Moving Towards the Goal of Eliminating Discrimination

Mic Hunter

         Underlying the behavior of discrimination is the attitude of prejudice. Attitudes can be thought of as mental habits. Something done habitually is done without much conscious awareness. The behavior, or thought in this case, occurs so frequent as to be largely subconscious. In order to modify a person's behavior and change her attitudes it is useful for that person to be consciously aware of what she is doing and thinking.

         If the reader is willing to accept the above model of human behavior it then follows that a campaign to encourage the population to become more aware of discriminatory behavior and prejudge thoughts is the first step in the eventual elimination of these behaviors and thoughts that reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the society.

         In the 1960's the United States government funded a mass media campaign to raise people's awareness of littering. Slogans such as "Don't be a litter-bug" were used to portray littering as unpatriotic. Youngsters were encouraged to educate their parents about the issue. It became politically correct for businesses to give customers litter bags. In a few short years the most people associated the word litter with trash rather than the offspring of a dog or a device to carry a reclined person. More importantly, until recently, when a new generation of young people who never saw the ad campaign began driving, there was a reduction in the amount of trash thrown from automobiles on highways.

         One would think based on the success of the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign that the federal government would immediately embark on a similar media blitz on the evils of discrimination. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely. Capitalism benefits from ongoing inter-racial low-level conflict. Energy spent by the working classes fighting among themselves is energy not spent on reforming the political/economic system. Since there will not be forthcoming a movement from the top of the system to educate the masses the momentum must come from the bottom and work upwards. In other words, if the people lead long enough, the leaders will be forced to follow.

         How would this grassroots movement take place? Simply each person would commit to becoming consciously aware of discrimination in himself and those around him. He would then use the power of the dollar and the vote to influence others. Not only would people need to become alert for discrimination but also for the lack of celebration of multiracial, multiculturalism. Discrimination against one group would be viewed as harmful to all. Not to do so would be viewed as un-patriotic or un-hip, whichever had the most powerful effect on the individual. This distinction is vital. In the 1960's telling a hippie that he was being un-American by discriminating again someone of another race probably would have had done little to decrease his behavior because hippie saw being un-American as desirable. However, if you informed him that being a racist was not hip, that might be enough to get his attention and encourage him to modify his behavior since being hip was the core concept of being a hippie.  

         Parents of young children would personally review their children's school books for signs of prejudge and complain to the school board if when only White persons were shown in the illustrations. Parents would ask those running for school board positions what they would do to increase the students' exposure to multi-cultural experiences. An elected officials record would be studied for patterns. Those that promoted multi-cultural activities would be noticed and openly praised. Those that ignored other cultures would be questioned. "I noticed this year that every one of the musical events sponsored by the school this year performed only music from European cultures. What were you thinking that you did not include the music of other continents in the programs?" is an example of the way the issue would be raised.  

         The letters to the editor sections of local papers would be used to point out organizations or individuals that were contributing to the increase in positive awareness of other cultures and to complain about the opposite.

         Each person would commit a certain percentage of their personal recreational funds every year to attending, and thereby supporting, cultural events from other cultural groups. A less that ideal example of this is the way everyone claims to be Irish on Saint Patrick's Day.

         Members of churches or other religious organizations would insist that a religious education component be made available to both children and adults that focus on learning about all major religions of the world. Members of different religions would be invited to speak at services.

         Letters to advertisers and manufactures concerning their portrayal of minority groups would have a powerful and rapid effect on their actions if those that complained stopped buying products and stated that it was because of their discriminatory ads.   It is not enough merely not to purchase a product; the producers must know that the sale was not forthcoming due to the disrespectful aspect of the product or ad. This would include videos, films and recorded music. The Montgomery bus boycott showed the power common people can wheal by withholding their money.   A more recent example is the threaten, but not actual, boycott of Idaho potatoes prevented passage of a state bill that would have highly restrictive of abortion. Imagine the clout that an anti-discrimination movement could have.

         In order to get such a movement started each person would place a calendar next to his or her bed. Each night for ninety days before retiring five minutes would be set aside for reflection on what was personally done to reduce the amount of discrimination in this country and this would be recorded on the calendar page for that day.

 

Dr. Mic Hunter is licensed as both a psychologist and a marriage and family therapist. He is the author of numerous books. His private practice is in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife of 27 years. He is the author of numerous books (more...)
 
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