Without Googling the word “discrimination” (we’ll call it the “D-word”), do you know its intended meaning? It has been thrown around ad nauseam in the 21st century but I contend that its original definition has been distorted by over usage. Go ahead and use it in a sentence. If you said something like “discrimination is the reason that I didn’t get that job,” you’re a winner!! That employer discriminated against you because some other candidate was more qualified. Was that wrong? You are nodding your head so violently that you just sloshed latte onto your laptop. If you’re black or a woman or gay, you immediately concluded that the company passed over you due to prejudice toward such status. But did you see all the resumes submitted or sit in on the interviews? Just for argument’s sake, let’s say you did: how do you know what the employer envisioned as the “perfect fit” for the job? Although you can’t seem to fathom it being for any reason other than your race, gender or sexual orientation, you don’t, no you don’t, you can’t, no you don’t, and you most definitely DO NOT KNOW why the employer rejected you unless he told you. The bottom line is, you don’t get to say why an employer hired one person and not another, nor is it your place to specify what the boss should have been looking for. That privilege belongs solely to the management of the company, which is obviously not you.
To nail this down, we’ll go one step further and assume the unthinkable: that nasty bigot actually told you he wanted a white person for the job. The racist nerve! You are more than just the color of your skin, for sure. How dare someone decide on such a superficial basis? Sadly, I work for a company that does this regularly. In fact, they have an entire committee that meets to discuss race and choose employees based upon it. Credentials and experience take a backseat to nationality and gender. Of course, the existence and activities of the committee are kept quiet, to preserve peace among the less favored demographics. I can feel your outrage from here. What a crazy, backward society we live in. Prejudice is alive and going stronger than ever, yet no discrimination lawsuits have ever been filed against my employer because heterosexual, Caucasian males are the only ones rejected. It’s a Diversity Inclusion Committee (or a “DIC”) which handpicks recruits from law school based entirely upon the color of their skin, their gender or sexual orientation – they’re open to anything except straight, white boys. The company’s usual set of high standards for GPA and class rank are set aside when selecting “minority” candidates. They lowered those standards to be certain the minorities would make the cut. Let me say it another way: they make their decision to hire based only upon the status of race, gender or preference. They don’t care about your brain or your resume or any of the hard work you’ve done to get where you are. All that matters is that you’ll help their diversity profile; you’ll look good on paper. Being hired because of your status should be much more odious than being rejected because of it.
I have a funny feeling your displeasure has now shifted from my company back to me, and I understand your frustration at being proven a hypocrite. You had such a solid case going until you had to defend it. Discrimination is distinction among and identification of people, objects, places, etc., by their characteristics – for better or for worse. Consider (probably for the first time since grade school) the possibility that you aren’t as super-awesome as you think and that your rejection had absolutely nothing to do with your status. If I’ve even convinced you to entertain that notion, I bid you welcome to the real world.
Although you’re still seeing waves of crimson, please humor me a moment longer as I explore one more angle. When you’ve finally climbed the ladder, despite all the road blocks and hard knocks, imagine your attitude toward a yuppie peer who just happens to be the CEO’s spoilt-rotten baby boy. He never had to “start at the bottom” or “work his way up” since everything was laid before him simply because of his privileged status. For good reason, it will be impossible for you to view him as a worthy equal when you find out his daddy handed him the job. Keep in mind that you should expect the same treatment from your peers if you have been hired based upon anything other than merit. Now please remind me again how prejudices are to be abated by filling status quotas. Such requirements in and of themselves show partiality to certain classes of people for reasons other than job capabilities. While those classes may have been overlooked or even mistreated in the past, reversing prejudices will never accomplish the stated goal of eliminating them.
One of the biggest freedoms we have as human beings is the ability to choose. That ability, as with all other freedoms, can be used prudently or recklessly – for good or for evil. The D-word is always a factor when a choice is made. Am I now patently accusing everyone of discrimination? Well, yes, and I can only hope that I’m correct. If you’ve ever made any kind of decision, you’re guilty!! Claim innocence at your peril, as you’ll be admitting that your mom still picks out your clothes each morning (something others have long suspected but couldn’t prove). It is a disappointing fact of life that some people cannot see beyond race or gender, although as free Americans, that is one’s personal right. However, for the unfortunates who have truly experienced the D-word because of external characteristics, the best advice is to just move on! Not even a successful lawsuit will change the bias or prejudice in someone’s heart. Learn to shake it off, take your knocks and eventually you will find people who appreciate you for all the right reasons.