Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

In a previous week, I learned about, observed, and shared examples of microaggressions. I also moved on to learn that personal biases as well as institutional prejudices are sources of inequities and oppression, and that bias and prejudice themselves are learned. To complete this assignment, asked self the following questions:
  • 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.
One memory that I have when I experienced prejudice occurred over 20 yrs ago but it seems like it just happened yesterday. On this particular day, one of my girlfriends and I went to the mall which was located in an area that I consider to be diverse. My girlfriend and I were talking and walking through the parking lot to get to the main entrance, as we proceeded to cross the street, a female stated “get out of the street you n-----(the “n” word). I was livid the girl drove off but to our surprise she was blocked in by a car that was backing out so she had to stop; at that moment, my girl friend and I didn’t think we immediately ran after her car and kicked it in and we told her to get out of the car…..thank God she got scared and drove off…. It was a huge scene…other African Americans that heard and saw what happened were in support of my girlfriend and myself. But the thing that surprised me the most was when an older Caucasian couple approached my friend and myself and stated “I am soooo sorry for what you girls experienced, we feel so bad that in this day and age people still use that word and for no reason”.  I found it to be interesting that people from other walks of life felt my pain and tried their best to calm my friend and myself down. But one thing that baffled me was that the girl that called us the “n” word was a minority just like us ( but not African American). As a mature woman I am not proud of my reacting to someone’s ignorance, but in that moment I was devastated because I never experienced that and I didn’t know how to react…I am just happy the girl got scared and eventually drove a way and that I eventually calmed down and let it go.
  • In what way(s) did the specific bias, prejudice and/or oppression in that incident diminish equity?
Equity diminished in that incident because I had the power to not react in a stereotypical manner. However, I felt as if I was empowered because of the many kind comments from looker on’s and from people of  both minority and majority groups…..in that moment I felt as if humans were being empathetic to other humans and all groups of people regardless of their race and socioeconomic status was appalled  and apologetic to my friend and myself…..that experience gave me faith and hope for change in the way we treat each other as humans.
  • What feelings did this incident bring up for you?
This incident brought feelings of hurt and confusion as to why a person from one minority group would make such a hurtful comment especially when we were only crossing the street. As a mother,  I now think of my son and what he may face and all I can do is tell him not to react the way I did and to try your best to walk away.
  • What and/or who would have to change in order to turn this incident into an opportunity for greater equity?
I think I could have walked away and handled myself in a mature way other than reacting and kicking her car and telling her to get out of her car ….I have learned that no one wins when being ignorant or reacting to it…..but keep in mind I was young at that time and as an older woman, I would not react that way.



  1. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I was shocked as a read what happened to you and your friend. Unfortunately, bias is everywhere. Even though the U.S. claims to be more accepting, there are still many individuals who are extremely bias and believe that their thoughts and beliefs are the only and correct ways to live.

  2. Nickon,

    I can only imagine the anger you and you friend felt. At the present time, your reaction stemmed from your emotion, but it's great to know that you have learned from the situation and would likely handle yourself differently. The level of ignorance and hatred displayed by others amazes me, yet it also saddens me.