DISCRIMINATION: Dividing American citizens one day at a time

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Why do we discriminate?

When we look back in history, several instances of discrimination come to mind: the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Japanese Internment Camps, Jim Crow laws.

It seems as though people have always been discriminated against.

But why?

Is it in our nature to categorize and label each other? Or, rather, our environment we are raised in or the values we are taught growing up?

“I believe that humans discriminate because people are scared of what they don’t know and if you are different than me then it is easier for me to protect myself by having to discriminate or jump to conclusions. A lot of times we tend to filter out different things and put people into different stereotypes or categories because it’s much easier for us to process that way,” said Dr. Michelle Cox, a Delta College psychology professor.

Cox teaches Delta students in the Introduction to Psychology course, which includes a brief overview of social psychology.

“One of the most recent [studies that I have taught] is the one by Jane Elliot in which she took third grade children and told them that the blue eyed children were smarter than the brown eyed children and as a result of that they ended up treating each other differently and children that were once friends ended up hitting each other and saying negative things to one another… [My students] were shocked and wanted to hear about more experiences and were fascinated by the impact in such a short amount of time. It really got them thinking about the effects of discrimination has in the long term as well,” said Cox.

Students are well aware that right now America is divided.

Television news, social media and every other news outlet seems to always have a riot or racially-provoked event covered.

All of the recent events regarding race have pinned us against one another.

“A lot of these riots … that have been happening recently like in Baltimore and Ferguson … those riots have been going on for a long time … These riots and this idea of discrimination and stereotyping has been occurring for a really long time. In some ways we have made strides, but in other ways we haven’t evolved very much,” added Cox.

Humans have discriminated for as long as we can remember but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable.

It’s 2015, shouldn’t we have moved past these problems?

Shouldn’t we look back at history and learn from our ancestors’ mistakes?

Time doesn’t provide clear answers to those questions.

Discrimination and racism will not dissolve overnight, but if each one of us could take a minute to look past our differences, maybe the future won’t look so bleak.

“[We need to] continue to educate ourselves, the more knowledge that we have the less that we jump to conclusions, the more understanding that we can be of one another and respecting each other’s differences and appreciating each other’s strengths and looking and really improving the community and looking out for one another,” said Cox.