Discrimination Comes in All Sizes

During a conversation with a friend two days ago, I was struck again by the injustice and unfairness in the world. The word “discrimination” came to mind.  Largely associated with minority groups, the poor and handicapped, discrimination reared its ugly head during our talk. She was near tears when she spoke. Only, she isn’t poor or handicapped. She is a white, upper class mother of three. She happens to be married to a man whose family name brings to mind great wealth in this community. Consequently, people assume they have a stash of cash in the basement and can afford anything and everything they want. She doesn’t like to tell people her whole name when she meets them; she kept it from her hairdresser for months!  Her family lives in a large home and owns a lot of “stuff”.  Her address embarrasses her because everyone knows THAT house! Her kids are teased because of who they are and finding real friendships is, I am sure, difficult for all of them.  Does someone want to be their friend because of their toys or because of their amazingly sweet personalities?

She described to me how people will charge her more for things than they would otherwise because they assume she has the extra cash.  A landscape estimate that would cost Joe Average $2000 comes to $4000 for this family.  They have worked hard for what they have, yet live on one salary that is no more or less than anyone associated with the degree and job her husband holds. He just happens to have a name tied to the company he works with and the assumption is that he earns boatloads more than anyone else. It’s just not true. They have made smart purchases and worked their way to where they are. Just like me, discount groceries and dented cans are part of the process and she has scraped by on nothing in the bank during her marriage like most of the rest of us. No silver spoon here; hard work alone. She drives an 8 year old car and loves it. Smart lady!

Her hurt was obvious. She wants to be known for who she is not the name she carries. She wants others to look past the material and see that they are really a simple family with the same struggles we all have. Mothering three children, running a household, cooking, cleaning, cleaning up dog poop all come with her territory. Sound familiar? The unfair advantage they are assumed to have just doesn’t exist. Why must we stereotype the people with seem to have it all and treat them differently? Why should they pay more for something? Who says they have more?

Assumptions are astoundingly stupid thoughts and get us in trouble every time. My dear friend trusts no one easily; why should she?

I, for one, am proud to know her. Not because she lives in a big house or has a plasma screen.  She could live in a ditch for all I care and I’d still like her.  She is an honest, loving, kind and beautiful woman who wants to do the best she can with what she has for those she loves.

Would we were all a little more like that.

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