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My Experience With Prejudice and Discrimination

Updated on March 6, 2014
A chess prodigy plays with experienced playersin a tournament.
A chess prodigy plays with experienced playersin a tournament.

Prejudice and Discrimination

My first realization of prejudice occurred when I was just five years old. My parents were required to register me for schooling at that age, although Kindergarten was not yet a requirement in our city's education system. I was administered a battery of assessments from which the school district recommended enrolling me in Grade 3 at age 5, since they had no classes or extra activities for gifted children. I was punished for my assessment results when I arrived home and I was held out of Kindergarten.

I learned later that my mother dropped out of school after Grade 6 at about age 14 and my father had not completed college, although he earned a significantly above-average salary. They were afraid that "someone would find out" their secrets - more specifically, that I would figure it out and "tell everyone." My mother, especially, was very angry with my assessment results.

Historic Long-Term Prejudice Against Gifted and Talented Groups In Schools

I learned to read and write from television programs before I was 4, with a little help from my mother with the alphabet and simple single-digit addition and subtraction; and did not find much challenge in Grades 1-3. I was told I was able to read silently too fast and to slow down by saying each word separately in my mind. I was not able to regain my reading speed until college.

I was ambidextrous and was emotionally leaned on very heavily by the teacher to become right-handed. I was not permitted to use my left hand to print, draw, or cut with scissors. I did not recover all of that ability until I had exercised both sides of the body in martial arts classes and become a 1st dan black belt as an adult.

The biggest thing I learned was that other kids (bullies) did not like the group of us that got homework done and could answer questions correctly when called on in class. They would hit us for it as soon as recess was called, until we started fighting back. This was all not a pleasant time and it lasted until 6th grade.

Since that time I have seen that when some Adult Education/GED students approach completion of their studies, certain of their classmates and even family members begin to sabotage these students' progress. In fact, some of the younger students go away to Job Corps in order to be able to complete a high school education or GED.

There seems to be a prejudice against accomplishment in this country and in some places, more so against minorities and women; but in other places, against white men.

Historic Prejudice

In the Encyclopedia Of American Education under "Gifted", we find an interesting idea.

It appears that even in the ore wealthy school districts, administration and staff avoid targeted education for the talented and gifted (termed TAG in some districts).

Some researchers find that this avoidance is caused by a historic belief that in the USA “all men are created equal” and thus not deserving of special educational programs. Others feel that this must be an excuse, because that belief does not at all seem to stop special education for the developmental disabled and MR/DD populations or those with other special needs, except by occasional funding cuts.


According to some educators, the result has been a cultural bias against gifted students. “In America,” according to the minutes of the 1993 annual conference of the National Association for Gifted Children, “we often make fun of our brightest students, giving them . . . derogatory names. As a culture, we seem to value beauty and brawn far more than brains.”

Unfortunately, this prejudice targets people to the end of their life spans, even far into old age.


Marching Band

2008 St. Patrick''s Festival in Dublin, Ireland. Sanyo All-Girls' Junior/Senior High School marching band in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan. Founded in 1929.
2008 St. Patrick''s Festival in Dublin, Ireland. Sanyo All-Girls' Junior/Senior High School marching band in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan. Founded in 1929. | Source

Gender Prejudice

Elementary School

In Grade 4, gender prejudice arose to run parallel with prejudice against academic achievement. We did not have girls' sports per se, but we did have Physical Education outside when the weather was good. This often included dodge ball contests and foot races with boys and girls participating against one another in the same groups. I'll never forget the time that I won a foot race and the teacher announced loudly that the win did not count, because only boys were allowed to win. Some of the girls began bringing notes from home stating that they were injured or not well enough for Physical Education on those days.

In Grade 5, our teacher administered a test in word definitions. All those who scored a 100% were given failing grades - big black F's marked on their papers. A couple of students cried - boys and girls - and the teacher told us that it was about time that some of us "perfect" kids received an F to see how it felt. Parents were enraged by this activity, complained to the principal and school board, and the grades were raised.

Middle School

In junior high or middle school, although I'd been awarded a John Phillip Sousa Award and sat first chair trumpet in the Concert Band, girls were not permitted to join the Swing Band. Many people said in general that girls are incapable of playing brass instruments. This discrimination disappeared in high school and I sat first chair in marching and concert bands. However, looking forward to college, I was disappointed to be informed at Admissions that women were not permitted to join the marching band or several other musical groups.


After a back sprain, I'd enrolled in martial arts for flexibility. The activities cured stiffness and alleviated pain and I began to progress. In the higher black belt levels, it was a good thing that I had a near-photographic memory for form patterns ("kata" in Japanese), because I was the lone female practicing with men who refused to show two forms to me. I saw the forms once each during one practice as others did them. My uniform was stolen before a testing day, but I had another and, and passed that test and subsequent tests. Still, the grandmaster and other instructors celebrated birthdays in the group, excluding mine, and began cutting me out of other events. I had been required to open a studio for the last part of the 4th dan test requirement (it was suggested to the others up for testing as well) and was the only one to do so. By 5th dan, I had joined a different group.

I have studied five martial arts for long hours inside and outside in all weather conditions, struggled with prejudice, and paid an equivalent of 5 times the market rate total for black belt dan rankings 1 through 9, because of gender and less than ethical administrators (before I could learn the market price and protest). However, I have several sets of skills that cannot be taken away.


Medical Prejudice

Prejudice In the Job Market

After college, I found that in applying for jobs I would be turned down quite often and quickly. Interviews seemed short. This was frustrating and I could not maneuver around some large and unseen barrier. Discrimination is shocking, especially when you feel well qualified and have credentials to show. EEO had been in effect for years at this time, but had not yet eradicated all unfair and illegal barriers to employment. Some employment applications still asked for family medical history.

Not having had any instruction on completing job applications or arranging and successfully completing employment interviews, I filled in as much family medical history as I knew. It turned out to be too much, since two people on one side of the family died of cancer and several on the other side were heavy smokers with heart conditions.I was healthy and never smoked personally, but the family medical history was my nemesis.

One particular company interviewer mentioned the term "high risk" in relation to health insurance costs and I realized what was happening. Afterward, I left family medical histories on job applications blank and soon EEO stepped in to remove this obstacle to employment.

Prejudice In Treatment

When my father's employer offered health and medical insurance for purchase, he declined, because he felt both were overpriced. In addition, His salary and company investments and pension were such that he could pay for catastrophic illness or accidents out of pocket, so he thought little of it (I never saw a penny of the money, though, or inherited any, in case you wonder). When I was 14, I was hospitalized for 3.5 days with abdominal pain that prohibited me from standing straight. My father explained to hospital staff that he would pay all costs out of pocket with no problem.

Despite the ability to pay, I was placed into a room that was being used for storage of equipment and supplies. It was difficult to get into the bed because of this.

I was given an IV saline solution the first noontime and no subsequent food or IVs. The day before my discharge, my father received a tentative bill that charged for food and, learning that I had received none, was very angry. Despite his confrontation with hospital staff, I received no food during the rest of my hospitalization. I also received no treatment during the 3.5 days, although the bill listed several procedures. Another confrontation lowered the bill. I was discharged with no diagnosis. The pain slowly dissipated over the next week and the family physician gave the diagnosis of "twisted ovary causing painful ovulation." This experience left me with a lasting negative opinion of American Healthcare.

Added to this is my experience working with disability and pain and stress clients. Repeatedly, I saw lower income, older, and rural patients treated minimally for major conditions, even when they had good insurance. Two women admitted to the hospital through the ER with cardiac symptoms were sent home the same day and died of heart attacks. And so it goes.

Racial Prejudice

At one company that employed me and on a board of directors of another that had recruited me, I was the single person of my race, the others being of another one or two. It is hard to describe the attempts at discriminating against and isolating me from important events and projects. I was able to find workarounds in each case, but these required long hours of more work than should have been necessary. Discrimination wastes resources.


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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you, Patty, for sharing this with us. This story is an inspiration to all not to let discriminaton deter them from accomplishing his/her goals in life.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Patty, sorry to hear all these stories. We all have some, though.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Hopefully the information will ring bells and bring someone ideas for solving some similar hard times! There is so much that has been kept secret and therefore, living. Speaking out can help kill the weeds.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      7 years ago from New York

      I was in your shoes and still feel discriminated at work. Seems that the more we know, the more we become a target. Your story....I mean this semi bio opens up the Patty that I wanted to know. Seems that we have so much in common, even though it doesn't show at first. We have accomplished so much and the road ahead will bring the allocated expected social issues, but we are here for a purpose. Thanks for sharing a very importat part of your life with us.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank, KKG. I appreciate your thoughts.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Patty, what an awful and unfair thing discrimination is. I have seen discrimination practiced in some classrooms daily. Unfortunately parents pass on their own peculiar dislikes to their children. It seems as though it will never stop. I have made it a part of our daily life skills calss to try to get across the idea that all people are the same underneath. What a foolish thing it is the hold a person's gender, sexual preference, race, religion, nationality or any thing else against them. I wonder when it will ever end. Up, and awesome. You have endured a lot and come out stronger.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I do not know if we can achieve that goal of eradicating prejudice and discrimination, but we can reduce it. Thank you for asking that question.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      is prejudice innate in human beings? Where ever I go, there is always one for of it. Your hub clearly shows that in almost everything that we do - from school, health, sports, it exist. Will there be a time when there will be no prejudice?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Incredible, elayne001. A friend married non-English speaking men twice. Her second marriage included a wonderful stepson from a Central American country. When he came to live in the US for awhile, he understood what his stepmother had gone through in his homeland, not understanding the language and feeling isolated and belittled. He speaks English now, fought for us in Iraq in the US Army and came home safely.

    • elayne001 profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      So glad that my question gave you inspiration to write this revealing hub - Interesting that we have the opposite experiences, yourself as a gifted child, myself with a learning disability in reading comprehension. I was singled out by my fifth grade teacher and made to feel I was less than human because I couldn't recall facts from what I read. I have had to work hard to overcome that and many other prejudices. I have lived in a country where I was often the only pale face in the group. I know how it feels to be a minority and be expected to understand and speak a language that I couldn't master.I guess we all have instances where we have experienced prejudices, because of someone ignorance or biases. Having married a man of another race, I have had many many tales to tell of prejudice. I hope to someday live in a world where prejudice does not exist (for real?). Thanks for sharing Patty.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Triplet Mom - Gifted children can be a wonder, for sure. What to do with them? I feel bad for those that are held back. I knew one that was 5 years old that is today is 28 and still living with mm (divorced), because she held him back so much in life. This one went from brilliant in school to a WalMart shopping cart round up person.

      Mickey Sr. - That's right! And you came up with it alone - very observant, I'd say.

      Journey' - Well, I survived and that was the biggest accomplishment during the early years. During adulthood, I'd have to say that getting a few people out of wheelchairs permanently was the biggest one.

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      7 years ago from USA

      Hi Patty, thanks for sharing your personal and inspiring stories. You overcame and accomplished so much.

    • MickeySr profile image


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      "The Multiples Intelligences theory" . . ? . . you mean that's an actual thing - I thought it was just they way things seemed to me?! well, that is at least encouraging. Thanks, I appreciate your attention.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Very insightful hub! Voted up of course. Working with students of all ages. I have to say seeing parents who hold their children back out of fear or lack of education is still really rampant. I have always been of the mindset that I want my children to do better than me and so far I feel that they are on the right track. One of my children is gifted and I am certain there will come a time when I will not be able to help him and will have to defer to someone else for help and I am ok with that. Ego only slightly tarnished. As for racial prejudice too many experiences too often and I really wish that would change. Thanks again for sharing of yourself.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Mickey Sr. - I am afraid that one sector of the media will not let these prejudices die, so until we conquer this in the low quality sitcoms and exploitation series like GCB,we are doomed to suffer from all forms. The Multiples Intelligences theory I first learned in the 1980s and it speaks to everything you say, but in certain quarters it is misapplied. The theory began with 13 types of intelligences (including sporting/physical type) was narrowed to fewer than 10, but I believe there are at least the 13. SO, you have something valuable in your thoughts!

      My Minds Eye53 _ I agree with you and I think bullying is a tool used in competition for survival in humanity. An unnecessary tool.

      bborello - Thanks for your experience, which must have been incredibly painful. So many people are vessels of these types of pain.

    • MickeySr profile image


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.


      I've said to others, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts; I think perhaps the final prejudice we will have to deal with (if there will ever be, or imagining, such a thing as "the final prejudice") will be intellectual prejudice . . . when we finally learn that there are all kinds of 'smart', that it's not simply that those who are inclined to logic and analysis are the smart ones, while those who are intuitive or creative are special in their own way, and those who are socially adept or even athletic are just not thought of as smart at all. I think there is a certain kind of genius that enables a ballplayer to excel within the rules of a game and control his body and understand the strategy, etc, just as there is a certain kind of genius that enables a businessman to move successfully within the structures of a corporation or small shop, just as there is a certain kind of genius that enables some to a social adeptness that makes those around them feel interested in and cared for, etc, etc.

      I don't mean "a certain kind of genius" as in something nice but something other than 'smart' - I mean exactly a type of 'smart', an intellectual capacity. I think me wife is better in social settings, not because she's just naturally a sweet person, but because she has a kind of 'smart' about interacting with other people that I have a kind of 'stupidity' about. We've come to catalog logic & analytical thinking as real thinking, as being smart, while many other kids of 'smart' we catalog as artistic or athletic or just being nice, etc - I think it all has to do with what abilities your brain has and how you use those.

      I don't think Stephen Hawking is smarter than Michael Jordan - he's just smart in a different way. And, I ponder if, race is settled, age is settled, gender is settled, etc, if intellectual prejudice won't be the last bigotry we have to resolve . . ?


    • My Minds Eye53 profile image

      My Minds Eye53 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      I have always felt that bullies and people who are bigots and discriminate are people who usually do not like themselves or are very unhappy and have the need to bolster their egos by trying to make others feel less than they are. They are the ones to be pitied. Of course prejudice is taught also, none of us are born with that train of thought.

    • bborrello profile image


      7 years ago from Oregon, USA

      It's so interesting to find that even when we feel truly alone in the world, we are not. I have experienced many similar difficulties in my life and growing up. I had to learn how to read in two days because I never attended pre-school or kindergarten. I was threatened with violence by scary nuns if I didn't. By the age of ten (no longer in Catholic School) I excluded myself from the "smart" kids program to avoid the stigma. I was excluded from sports due to asthma. I later joined martial arts and was not treated the same as the men of equal rank. There always more of course...I just wanted to share a little. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Mickey Sr. - A lot of talent is lost when kids that learn differently and who are higher achievers are punished by the way they must settle for less. A few parents even undermine these children. I guess we need to make the best lives we can now, but prejudice lasts even into old age, and so will the continuing fight.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      It helps us all to hear each one of your stories and understand how far spread discrimination still is. Discrimination and bullying need to be called out continually until they no longer exist. I still occasionally become angry about my early years, but mostly am amazed that I survived, considering what I have written is the smallest tip of the iceberg. Many of you understand what can lie beneath.

      I am reminded of the film about the old grandmother in the mountains of Korea, living in a paper-wall house without plumbing in the late 1990s, bent at the waist with arthritis, and unable to speak because of a physical condition. Whenever someone targeted abuse at her, she found another way to go and obtain what she needed or needed to do. I remember her often.

    • MickeySr profile image


      7 years ago from Hershey, Pa.


      I don't count myself 'gifted' at all, but I have a good working mind and an academic disposition . . . I delight to learn, to understand, to grow - and, I kind of peaked at an early age. I was always culturally in-tune, I enjoyed things creative and done well, so when I was a kid (1960s) I liked Star Trek, Motown, monster movies, etc, just like my peers - I think that saved me from experiencing hostile prejudice from my community (other kids). The difference was while most kids just liked Cream, I knew that Eric Clapton had played in The Yardbirds and The Bluesbreakers before Cream, and that his style of playing was based on American Blues music, and that his wah wah pedal wasn't manipulating volume but was altering the tone from thin to thick, etc, etc. I was always the guy who knew stuff, and sometimes that was fine but often it some uncomfortable.

      The prejudice that troubled me, and actually affected the course of my life, was the institutional design of the classroom, how the school system sets about to educate us. The schools defer to the lowest common denominator, they corporally teach that level of students who aren't 'getting' it. I sat in classes that perpetually reviewed because kids were perpetually asking about what we had already covered - again and again. I was terribly bored in school. I was interested to learn, but that was so rarely what was taking place. Eventually I was advised (by the school student advisor) to just drop-out and take the GED test . . . I eventually did and, got the 2nd highest score ever achieved in that particular county, but I was by then not too keen to look for more classrooms. I just started working."

      Years later I was involved in a court case that required I take a barrage of IQ & aptitude tests - I scored near genius in several parts of the tests. However, by that time I had a wife and 4 kids . . . I think of all the kids, like I was, who could be encouraged to learn and accomplish rather than discouraged and settle. 20 or 30 kids in a classroom trying to memorize upcoming test answers to move on to the next classroom is not going to inspire a kid with the potential to really learn and develop new ideas and figure things out, etc.


    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Discrimination is the worst of all human conditions. This is a critical topic for all of us - every nation.

      I was stunned when I read the bio of Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin of Google (partner with Larry Page) and how his family came to the United States because they could not get into the educational program of their choice!

      I love JFK because he fought for anti-discrimination in action - not the paper and legal stuff.

      And Mother Teresa provided the recipe book for how we should love: "Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."

      I was raised by my Grandparents and had no father. My Mother was crippled by RA and the day on the playground where a little girl shouted that I had no father and I replied my Father was in heaven is true for all of us.

      God is our Father.

      Jesus is in each and every one of us and kindness must be first and foremost.

      This personal information is hard to share but we all must unite together, across the oceans, across the world to be one.

      Beautiful because you will cause us to love each other and fight the demon of hate and prejudice.

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 

      7 years ago


      You impress me for enduring such a grulling beginning. I had to grow up in foster homes, some were sincerely caring while most of the others were mediocre, or could not care less attitude. As a consequence my education was not a concern of most, I happened to recognize some capabilities by teachers that did care; I should say 'devoted to the challenge as a teacher.' I grew up feeling mediocre intelligence until I was forced to attend college under the GI bill to help keep my family afloat, it was like the sun was a shining horizon for my future.


    • itakins profile image


      7 years ago from Irl

      This is an incredibly touching hub.I can't but feel angry at the behaviour of these pathetic people.When will they cop on to the fact that ,yes ,all people should be treated equally ....but not the same!Equality is recognising each human person's individual needs, and doing the best possible to meet those needs.Brilliant hub,though sad.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Your story is incredible. There is still such an undercurrent of preferential treatment toward certain groups. Your accounts here illustrate this very fact. Great hub and I say this as a left-handed, right-brained, female, with Latina roots, with a love of learning and academic achievement.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      7 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      You are really an awesome person for overcoming all those odds. My Mind's Eye should also know that I read lips because I have a hearing problem. I punctured an eardrum when I was five and it did not heal right. It has excessive scarring. A lot of people have a hearing problem.

      My 15 year old daughter was treated like she was stupid when in the 3rd and 4th grades by her teacher. She was called stupid right in front of the other students. The girl had a 12th grade reading level then but she did not get math. Some people are like that. I am one of them also. Math just was hard for both of us. They acted insulted when I pulled my daughter out of their crummy school and started homeschooling her. She is doing very well now. I found the right math book for her. It is one of the How to ... for Dummies books. They explain well and she was very mad at her teacher when she found out that division was not that hard.

    • Norah Casey profile image

      Norah Casey 

      7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Great Hub. I'm really impressed that you made it through everything that you did. One of the best-worst things to happen to me was to spend a year in a wheelchair (due to a disability). I don't think a person can truly understand how the discriminated suffer until he/she has spent some serious time in a disadvantaged group.

      I noticed that you talk about women with cardiac symptoms being discharged from the hospital, only to die from heart attacks. I just read an interesting article about that here on USA today's website:

    • donnaisabella profile image

      Isabella Mukanda 

      7 years ago from Fort Myers

      Hey Patty, your hub is very touching. It made me stop and ask who Patty Inglish really is because we never have opportunities on here to know one another. I realized that Patty is every man and woman I meet everywhere, that may have to fight for what is rightfully theirs, or have to go against mighty odds to be what God wants them to be or to just be all that they could ever be. In this hub you have proved to me to be one of the most inspiring, determined and self motivated people I have ever met and I am glad you wrote it. Prejudice is real and it can happen to any one of us at any time for no fault of our own or just because we broke out of the mold of what is considered acceptable or normal. Thanks for writing, it did me a lot of good and encouraged me a lot.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I understand a little of what you are experiencing and am sorry that it is happening to you. Being unable to make out sentences and phrases would be bad for me, very aggravating. I hope medical science comes up with a solution for you. Until then, best wishes and stand firm!

    • My Minds Eye53 profile image

      My Minds Eye53 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      I voted up. I voted awesome because I find you awesome. You have overcome a lot and are a better person for it. I have dealt with some of the prejudices that you encountered. I am not a genius. But I am not stupid either. I have always had a hearing problem. I hear, I just can't make out what people are saying most of the time, especially a low voice. For this I was always treated like an idiot because I had to ask for things to be repeated.

      Inspiring hub, I shall share also.


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