- Politics and Social Issues
A Surprising Case for Discrimination
Sometimes Things Do Not Go The Way You Think
I recently decided to join my husband on his business trip down to the South, specifically Mississippi and Louisiana. I have never been to either state in my lifetime (yes you can call me sheltered), and excited for the adventure. Before leaving the Midwest on our week-long trip, I was expressing my excitement to my friends about heading down south and experiencing the culture. Every single one of them was quick to point out that the racial discrimination down South is horrible and I should be prepared. Now, I am not sure exactly how to prepare oneself for this. I mean, I grew up in a major city and was immersed in diversity since a baby. While there were family members of mine I was fully aware were very passionate about their dislikes for other races, my parents instilled in me the belief that everyone is different and I should not judge anyone, just as I would not want them judging me before getting to know me. That is my philosophy that I hold to this day.
I am not naïve to the injustices in our society and I do know that discrimination goes on in many areas of the world. So I am not saying that there is no racial discrimination that occurs in Mississippi or Louisiana. I am writing this as a middle-class, Caucasian woman who was simply prepared to witness racial discrimination like no other on my trip. "Be careful what you say", "Be careful who you talk to". All of these were bits of advice that I received before embarking on our trip.
So we made it to Mississippi and Louisiana and after a week I was completely floored as to the discrimination that I experienced. Not knowing either place, I opened my mind to explore many places while my husband worked during the day. What I found what not racial discrimination but rather an immense amount of economic discrimination. My most memorable and joyous experiences that occurred during the week were in conversation with the older population and with African Americans. I found these groups of people to be carefree, kind, gracious and full of life...just what I strive to be. The old adage, "treat people the way you want to be treated" was very visible in my encounters. Where this differed was with a select group of Caucasians that I encountered who were very self-centered and walked the Earth as if no one else existed and some felt as though everyone existed to cater to them. Lack of appreciation, refusal to converse with me and complete and utter disregard for my existence were the things that I experienced. I realized that my entire week I was not witnessing racial discrimination in any form, but rather an economic discrimination from people of my own race. Maybe it was because I was dressed in a tshirt and shorts for the week while I wandered around the cities, or maybe it was because I was simply out wandering in the middle of a weekday, but whatever it was, I was seen as unimportant to these handful of people in society. It surprised me as that is not what I was expecting to experience when I traveled down South. I had more in common with people outside of my race than I did with the people I encountered who were my own race. I found this interesting and was compelled to share my experience. It certainly gave me a different perspective on other forms of discrimination in our society.