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The Power Of Unintentional Discrimination

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Racism and sexism are both examples of discrimination that happen daily in contemporary society. Unfortunatel many instances of discrimination go unnoticed and unchecked because the society, more specifically the United States, is supposedly past the era of discriminatory practices in work, education and day to day living. "In fact, racism and sexism can be unintentional as well as intentional and good people who mean well can inadvertently

say things that are racist and sexist and homophobic" (Rothenberg 210).

Intentional discrimination is what comes to mind when most people think of discrimination. In other words, intentional discrimination is a purposeful, systematic way of thinking in which one places a group of people on a lower standard based on race, sex, class, religion and the like. It is also important to understand that intentional discrimination can be carried out from an individual standpoint as well as in a more structured setting such as in the arena of the work place or education system. Many people see intentional discrimination only when it is at its most blatant. These are cases wherein there is direct abuse or sub-standard treatment based on race or immigrant status. It also includes hate crime attacks on homosexuals based solye on sexual orientation. These are very individually based acts, but intentional discrimination is also visible in a structured or organized setting such as the incredible gender gap in Wal-Mart promotion practices. In this care, women were passed over in favor of men when it came to promotions to managerial positions.

These acts are deliberate and thought out in the sense that the discriminating person or organization is intending and calculating their behavior. They are aware of what they are doing and see their actions as justified in one way or another. However, it is also important to not that discrimination happens on a more subtle level as well, often without awareness.

Unintentional discrimination is not deliberat and much harder to describe because everyone is guilty of it at one time or another. It can be something as simple as not allowing a young boy to play with a Barbie doll because he is a boy and should not play with those toys in the parent's opinion. It can be much greater such as the rezoning of school districts leading to an imposed resegregation along class and race lines. In this sense, unintentional discrimination is based off of the societal norms that have been developed over time and engrained into a person's way of thinking. "These actions, all of which have a discriminatory impact on minorities and women, are not necessarily acts of conscious predjudice. Because such actions are so often considered part of the normal way of doing things, people have difficulty recognizing that they are discriminating..."



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