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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Discrimination


 

My dad (black), late stepmom (black), and late mom (white) told me stories about their experience living under Jim Crow laws when residing in Texas. What I found interesting was that it wasn’t entirely the will of the people who demanded discriminatory measures, as these laws represented mandated racial segregation practices from government authorities.

 

Before I continue with this post, it may be of use to define terms. Discrimination may be described as unjust or prejudicial treatment towards different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability.

 

In this way, discrimination is different than discernment—an act of perceiving or discerning something; whereas to discern is to recognize or identify as separate and distinct. An individual discriminating against a racial class of people isn’t the same thing as that same person discerning between different brands of toothpaste.

 

Likewise, prejudice may be defined as a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Here, prejudice is closely related to bias—prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unjust.

 

I’ve yet to meet anyone who has no prejudicial or biased opinions. For instance, I prefer friendship with women to men, though I have no reasonable justification for this form of bias.

 

So far, I’ve defined methods of otherizing—viewing or treating (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. Therefore, it may be useful to describe what racism and segregation are, as I began this post with discussion about Jim Crow laws.

 

Racism may be defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

 

In its simplest form, racism is the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. Not all racists wear white hoods.

 

For example, I once had a friend who redesigned the United States Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem by centering Africa rather than the Americas, having it tattooed on his body. His behavior represented a belief in black supremacy—dominance by non-white people of African-origin.

 

This action also constituted Afrocentrism—promotion of emphasis on African culture and the contributions of Africans to the development of Western civilization. Apparently, my former friend misunderstood the portion of the Marine hymn, “[…] to the shores of Tripoli,” which alluded to Marine-influenced victory at the Battle of Derna (1805) that took place in Africa.

 

Flaws in logic and reason of this magnitude are essential to matters discussed herein. Yet, I digress. Segregation may be defined as the action or state of setting someone or something apart from others.

 

As an example, one source states, “Racial segregation is the separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Segregation can involve the spatial separation of the races, and mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.”

 

Morally and ethically speaking, I see nothing wrong or bad about my particular example of prejudice and bias (preference for companionship concerning women). Equally, I don’t consider it unacceptable or incorrect to exercise discernment in this regard.

 

Nevertheless, when considering prejudice, discrimination, racism, and segregation based on immutable characteristics—any physical attributes perceived as unchangeable, entrenched and innate (e.g., racial identity)—personally, I’m opposed to treatment – though not necessarily beliefs – of this sort.

 

Allow me to explain. In my personal and professional life, I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to reduce the process of self-disturbance—upsetting oneself with irrational beliefs about events. These sorts of assumptions generally present in the following categories:

 

·  Demandingness (e.g., people shouldn’t practice miscegenation—sexual relationships or reproduction between people of different ethnic groups, especially when one of them is white)

 

·  Awfulizing (e.g., it’s awful having to live next door to people of a different race)

 

·  Low frustration tolerance (e.g., I can’t stand having to share public transit with different ethnicities, races, or nationalities)

 

·  Global evaluations (e.g., all non-black people are inferior to blacks)

 

Although one may assume the truthiness of the aforementioned examples of irrational beliefs, these narratives aren’t objectively factual or evidence-based concerning all people. For instance, one may consider it awful to live in a neighborhood with differing races, though this consideration is subjective in nature and isn’t applicable to all persons across the globe.

 

Nevertheless, when practicing REBT I don’t rely solely on empirical disputation—challenge which is based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic. It very well may be the case that a person considers it awful to live next door to people of a different race.

 

In this case, who am I to claim that this belief is good, bad, right, wrong, or otherwise? I have my bias and others maintain their prejudicial beliefs, as well. Therefore, people are well within the confines of self-determined and autonomous personal entitlement to maintain irrational beliefs.

 

For me to rigidly demand that every person must believe as I do wouldn’t be representative of rational living – a major objective of REBT practice. Consequently, I’m unopposed to individuals maintaining prejudicial, discriminatory, or racist beliefs.

 

Furthermore, while I oppose maltreatment based on irrational beliefs in my own life (e.g., racial segregation), I unconditionally accept that this sort of behavior exists and that I haven’t the control or influence to eradicate it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I like or love that such treatment takes place.

 

Rather, I merely acknowledge that I don’t maintain the power to change how the world functions. This is a rational approach to living, even though many people disturb themselves with delusional beliefs to the contrary.

 

Even though I’d prefer that my dad, late stepmom, and late mom wouldn’t have experienced discriminatory treatment that was largely sanctioned by the government, I practice unconditional life-acceptance to rationally conclude that I can’t change the past, completely alter the beliefs of other people, nor absolutely influence the behavior of others.

 

Accepting this healthy practice as valid and reliable, I can then apply the psychoeducational lesson elsewhere in my life. For instance, when my former friend irrationally believed in black supremacy and had an Afrocentric tattoo to illustrate his belief, I was undisturbed by my beliefs about his behavior.

 

In particular, I used unconditional other-acceptance to reasonably conclude that not everyone must share the same beliefs as I. To suggest otherwise would be to foolishly adopt a global evaluation – which isn’t in the slightest a rational conclusion at all.

 

Likewise, I use unconditional self-acceptance when encountering my own level of prejudice and bias. Even with some personal beliefs I maintain which aren’t wholly acceptable within society (e.g., I’m not fond of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access [DEIA] policy), I accept without condition that I’m a fallible human being and not everyone must agree with me.

 

As long as I’m not personally promulgating discriminatory DEIA practices – which would morally and ethically violate treatment to which I’m opposed – then I’ve met the standard of my personal interests and goals. The distinction herein relates to my beliefs versus my actions.

 

Given my framing of discrimination, how might you apply this lesson in your own life? Will you unproductively reinforce self-disturbing narratives about how you mustn’t allow others to believe differently than you?

 

Will you flexibly conclude that while you’d prefer others not to segregate spaces within institutions of higher education (e.g., black and indigenous people of color-only sections within student centers at universities), you can tolerate and accept such discriminatory behavior?

 

I’m not inviting you to pretend as though the practice of rational living is easy. Instead, I’m encouraging you to consider that self-disturbance isn’t without its own level of difficulty. Therefore, which sort of obstacle would you rather endure – that relating to rationality, irrationally, or perhaps something else (i.e., apathy, ambivalence, etc.)?

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

Davey, S. (n.d.). Photographs that tell a story- Elliott Erwitt’s ‘Segregated Water Fountains.’ Sophie Davey Photographic Journalism. Retrieved from https://sophiedaveyphoto.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/photographs-that-tell-a-story-elliot-erwitts-segregated-water-fountains/

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

Hollings, D. (2023, May 11). Catering to DEIA. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/catering-to-deia

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/circle-of-concern

Hollings, D. (2024, January 7). Delusion. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/delusion

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

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Hollings, D. (2023, October 2). Morals and ethics. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/morals-and-ethics

Hollings, D. (2023, March 20). Practice. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/practice

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Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-vs-rigorous

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

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Hollings, D. (2023, March 11). Unconditional life-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-life-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 25). Unconditional other-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-other-acceptance

Hollings, D. (2023, March 1). Unconditional self-acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-self-acceptance

National Museum of African American History & Culture. Klu Klux Klan hood with mask. Smithsonian. Retrieved from https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2013.55.1ab

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Battle of Derna (1805). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Derna_(1805)

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle,_Globe,_and_Anchor

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Elliott Erwitt. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Erwitt

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Jim Crow laws. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Racial segregation. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_segregation

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