Posted by: JDM..... | November 27, 2014

Discrimination is normal…

and other inflammatory viewpoints….

Recent events like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO refocused our national radar from ISIS and Ebola to the issues permeating our sometimes painfully slow transition from a culture that is strongly compartmentalized to one that operates as one that is more inclusive. I’m talking about “diversity“, I’m talking about “racism“. We all know numerous ways to define the underlying behavior: prejudice, bias, racism, sexism, and so on.

I find it strange for me to be writing from such an angle instead of the usual curmudgeonry. Actually, my views haven’t changed significantly, but I think the way I arrive at them has been nudged over some.

I have been curious for as long as I can remember about what makes both individuals and groups of individuals tick. As a child, I’d take things apart just to see what was in there even though I didn’t have as clue how to put them back together. Various arrangements of the underlying mentality associated with such behaviors have given us a litany of “I wonder what will happen if I push this button… ” and “..hold my beer and watch this” jokes, but I suppose it also led me to major in psychology and sociology in college and later to spend 25 years working in the behavioral health field.

I still approach current events, metaphorically speaking, with a magnifying glass, a pocketful of litmus papers, and a kit of small hand tools. What has transpired in the world is far less interesting to me than why it happened and why it is being reported in different ways across the media.

My neurons have been kept buzzing in recent years, along those lines, by the periodic eruptions occurring around circumstances involving racial conflicts, gender related issues, and “bias” in general. My focus has not been one of advocacy, but one of the what-where-when-why and how variety. While the news pumped out seemingly endless visual and editorial descriptions of intra-cultural collisions involving the popular racial, gender, and class issues, I have pondered and sputtered via-keyboard about some of the underlying factors of our levels of polarity, the widespread all or nothing perception-response phenomenon, etcetera.

In other words, my approach tends to be “I know we are ticking, but that is a natural human behavior, so the issue is not that we need to eliminate ticking, but to know why we tick and perhaps how to redirect it to constructive purposes”.

I was gratified to stumble across a You Tube presentation on that very subject that sounded a great deal like what I have been trying to understand and write about. It is wordy and long….about an hour….but I found it to be extremely enlightening. I highly recommend “Everyday Bias”, with Howard Ross, ( to anyone interested in seeing a non-cliché discussion of bias and discrimination for a change. It’s long, but I found it worth listening to.


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