June 8, 2012

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

What memory do you have of an incident when you experienced bias, prejudice, and/or oppression, or witnessed someone else as the target of bias, prejudice, and/or oppression? Keep in mind that one can encounter such incidents in real contexts, including online environments, as well as in fictional ones, such as movies, books, television shows, and the like.

Growing up, I distinctly remember times where my father displayed bias against particular groups of people, specifically those of certain races and ethnic groups, as well the LGBT community. These influences affected me as I often felt I should feel the same way my dad did. However, as I became older, I knew that it wasn’t right to treat people this way. The most recent before my father passed away occurred when President Obama was elected into office. My father couldn’t believe that our country had voted in favor of an African American for President!

In what way(s) did the specific bias, prejudice and/or oppression in that incident diminish equity?

When my father made comments about the President’s election, he assumed that because the President was not White, he was not able to do the job well. My father took away the qualities that any hard-working person wants to be recognized for, just because of skin color.

What feelings did this incident bring up for you?

I have to admit that it embarrassed me when my father would speak negatively of other people. There was a very diverse group of children in my high school and I always worried what others would think of me if they had heard my father’s negative outlooks or stereotypes.

What and/or who would have to change in order to turn this incident into an opportunity for greater equity?
Persons of my generation that grew up in similar home environments have to work extra diligently to not allow these types of prejudices and biases to appear in the classroom and home environments for future generations. By preventing the children of our future from learning these types of discrimination, we can turn our world into a better place with greater equity for all. I know that I try to encourage the children in my Preschool to treat all children with respect no matter what their differences may be. 


  1. Clara,
    I admire you for making a stand and the right decision to eliminate the biases and prejudice against people of different culture, race and religion. I know it is difficult to grow up in a conservative and catholic family because we are raised to follow the teachings of our church and obey the elders.
    To see how your dad treat other people at a very young age and to know what is right and wrong is really admirable. You should be grateful to him too because he raised you well.
    Even in our family, there is diversity-we still live together and accept each others differences.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  2. Clara,

    Your post reminds me of a friend of mine from college. She was from a small town and had been raised with a family who held similar beliefs but like you she made a conscious effort to not continue the biased behavior. I think that's the way to break the cycle thought, it only takes one person to stand up and acknowledge that the bias is wrong.