A Long Way to Go

1063 Words5 Pages
A Long Way to Go Here is what a couple of SCSU students thought about the recent holiday celebrated as Martin Luther King Day: "We should've killed four more of 'em, and we could've gotten the whole week off." I heard that and cringed. Prejudice, racism, bigotry, discrimination . . . whatever way it is phrased, it still means the same thing according to Webster: "a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known," or "a preconceived idea which is usually unfavorable." Prejudice is found everywhere, and it affects everyone, not just those being judged. Cringing after hearing the preceding "joke" was the affect that particular racial statement had on me. But I am sure that after reading that introductory phrase, some readers had an urge to laugh. People always talk about how they are "just kidding," or how we should "relax, it's just a joke." However, that is precisely the point. Joking about a race, color, or nationality is not funny--it is discrimination. The word prejudice literally means to "prejudge." In Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's essay entitled "women and Blacks and Bensonhurst," she talks about a high school English teacher named David Zieger. Zieger wanted to clearly present the unfairness of prejudice to his freshman class. He said, "Everyone with blue eyes has to do homework." The lesson was quickly learned. "It isn't fair," they protested. Touché, Mr Zieger, touché. That particular concept struck me as fascinating. To take such a complex, enduring, and painful subject, and to be able to break it down into such basic terms and get the desired result is amazing. Although Zieger probably was not the first to use this technique, his point was made very clearly. Growing up white with exclusively white people, I did not know the first thing about discrimination. My first experience came when I was twelve. It was our first entrance into the Girl's National Fastpitch Softball Tournament, and we were excited. None of us had reached true puberty, and we were all pretty flat-chested and narrow-hipped. Regardless, we were all girls. After beating a team from Kansas quite handily, their head coach, a male, filed an appeal claiming that some of our players were boys. Our parents were appalled, and we were scared, embarrassed, and angry. Though only twelve, I knew this was not right and we were being discriminated against because we were good athletes although we were girls.
Open Document