I know what it fees like to be discriminated against at work based on a disability. I have heard the thinly veiled excuses and the felt the drastic shift in attitude towards me. I didn’t press the matter, but I probably could have had I wanted to. In my case it was regarding a temporary issue, which made me even more frustrated. I wasn’t quite as productive while I was ill as I would have been at 100%, but I was fully trained and still carrying a considerable work load. It wasn’t only morally wrong to pick on me, but financially stupid as well. It’s human nature to want to contribute and feel valuable, and everyone who is capable should be allowed to work and support themselves. But, when we take emotions and ideals out of the equation, what are we left with and how should we navigate through it?
Shortly after writing a post about accidental racism, I watched the Christmas episode of Black-ish and I couldn’t help but laugh. There is a fine line between being racist and funny and it seems like the more of a minority you are the “funnier” you have permission to be. I have to admit I was a bit weary about Black-ish at first as I was worried it would be too politically correct or bring up stereotypical racial issues that I feel are way over represented. However, I was pleasantly surprised and now consider it one of the best new comedies of the season. In the Christmas episode there is a running joke regarding Mexicans. Perhaps because I live in Mexico for part of the year I have started picking up on more Mexican jokes than I used to. I find them hilarious. But, am I allowed to laugh?
A few weeks ago the European Court of Justice ruled that
if the obesity of the worker ‘hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers’, then obesity can fall within the concept of “disability”.
According to BBC News:
That will mean employers must, on a case by case basis, make reasonable adjustments such as providing larger chairs or special car parking, and protect such employees from verbal harassment.
But there are wider implications. Providers of goods and services such as shops, cinemas and restaurants will also have to make reasonable adjustments for their customers, which might include things like special seating arrangements.
While I do not think that there is ever an appropriate time for things such as verbal abuse, I believe that this ruling sets a dangerous precedent that will not benefit anyone.
Racism, like sexism, ageism, or really any -ism, is somewhat of a hot button topic for me. But, probably not in the way you are thinking. I realize that discrimination and prejudice happen all over the world, and even in our own neighbourhoods, but I do not think that the way we perceive or handle it (at least in North America) is beneficial or productive.
I find that many people tend to have verbal diarrhea when it comes to terms like racism and discrimination. Calling someone a racist does not automatically make you “win.” Screaming discrimination does not automatically entitle you to whatever you want. Sometimes, probably usually, race or culture or sex or religion has nothing to do with it. Now I realize that there are some instances when it’s clear that there is a bigger, underlying problem (such as Ferguson) and I’m not talking about countries/areas that have obvious concerns (like the middle east), but in most circumstances we need to take a step back and reflect.