Discrimination Not Always About Race

Discrimination isn’t always about race.

My son posted a piece on his Facebook page about a witness whose testimony in a rape case was basically disregarded because he is a skateboarder.

A former police officer, Michael Pena, was apparently found guilty of three counts of rape for assaulting a 25-year old school teacher (http://gothamist.com/2012/03/31/gunpoint_rape_cop_jurors_dismissed.php) but a judge later declared a mistrial. A juror, interviewed later, said that the testimony of one witness was disregarded; he was dubbed “the skateboard witness,” and his testimony was not taken seriously, the juror said.

My son loves to skateboard. He wrote on his Facebook page that the “prejudice is killing me inside.”

I wonder sometimes why God didn’t make us humans a little less prone to being unkind to each other. A friend of mine just visited Auschwitz, and wrote how the experience affected her, making her think of the Trail of Tears, the Middle Passage, the internment of Japanese during World Ward II, and, of course, American slavery.

“When will we learn?” she wrote.

Perhaps never, and that is a sobering and troubling thought. We as humans are so prone to put each other down, look for the worst in each other, and treat each other abominably. It doesn’t matter our religion, our race or our ethnicity. Think of the ethnic killings that have taken place all over the world, the desire of one race to create a “master race” that has spurred the most horrific human actions. For some reason, we as humans seem to have a need to discriminate against and to destroy each other.

The fact that a judge may have declared a mistrial in a rape case because he could not or would not take the testimony of a skateboarder seriously is, well, troubling.  Those who know the young man who testified said that he does not lie…but I would suppose that he had “the look” of a skateboarder. I once asked my son why he and his friends, in their skateboarding mode, all wore the knit caps, no matter the weather…I don’t remember what else I noticed, but I asked him, and he just grinned.

But because he wears a knit cap, or skateboard shoes often with no laces does not make him a questionable person, or a person without integrity, not worthy of being believed. I would hate it if he saw some horrific crime and testified as to what he saw, only to have his testimony thrown out because someone did not like the way he looks.

We discriminating against each other is not going to go away. Neither is prejudice or bigotry or racism. But I sure wish it would. It would make life a lot more palatable for a lot of people who are discriminated against every day, just for being who they are.

A candid observation …


2 thoughts on “Discrimination Not Always About Race

  1. Discrimination definitely includes more than race. However, it is not an either or. A person can discriminate based “skateboarding” and based on race. So, yes, skateboarders are discriminated against and black skateboarders are discriminated are discriminated against more. You can not determine whether race is an issue merely by noting another factor on which discrimination occurs. If you want to know whether race is a factor you have to control for the factor, ie skateboarding and note whether black skateboarders or treated differently than white skateboarders. So often, people just note the existance of another factor and ASSUME that race is not also a factor. http://racism.org

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