I have an app on my phone that’s supposed to be a journal made easy. It poses a question every day. In theory, I write an answer, and have my responses saved for whatever purpose whenever I want them, plus journaling is generally healthy. But, of course, that’s not what actually happens. So, I had an idea. In an effort to actually write here more often and with more purpose (or maybe not), I’ll use those questions/answers for blogginess. Feel free to comment on my answers or add your own.
Have you ever felt discriminated against?
I’ve definitely encountered (usually) subtle/unintentional but definite discrimination based on my age, especially from people just a smidge older than my parents. Most of it is along the lines of me giving an idea, suggestion, opinion, etc. and having that totally ignored/dismissed (even when it’s specifically asked for)…often, this is followed by the same person either using the idea as their own later or taking the same comment seriously when it comes from someone older (even when I have as much or more relevant knowledge/experience as the older person).
One odd (to me) example was two women in their mid 60s-early 70s. They were telling a group we’re all part of about how they wanted to start a Qigong group for exercise. Somebody asked what the word meant. They didn’t know. I explained something about it being about Qi/Chi…and they interrupted/shut me down with “No, it’s not. It’s spelled differently.” Then went on telling more things that weren’t entirely true. If we’re going to engage in cultural appropriation, let’s at least know the most basic definition of a thing, okay? It’s not hard; I mean, two seconds on Google or a few minutes at a local library would give you that much. Also, transcription, transliteration, and translation are full of such things. Multiple spellings for a word is not a new concept (even just within English…unless colour doesn’t mean the same as color).
They’re probably the two people who do this to me the most. They also talk about me as if I’m not good enough to have any sort of opinion or leadership role when they think I can’t hear them (“She really needs to learn better” and “Who does she think she is?” and actually something like “She’s too young to be here”; please note I barely talk to them or anyone else unless approached, because anxiety, so it’s not like I’m running around giving everyone unwanted suggestions or demanding control or anything like that…they do that, though. Who do they think they are? They really need to learn better.). When those comments were made, I was less than 15 feet away, directly opposite them after a meeting, in an otherwise empty and silent room, and their volume was like that of little kids who haven’t quite learned how to whisper yet but really want to, like they were trying to be secretive but really not succeeding. I guess being young has some advantages when it comes to hearing and being nice. (Not really, obviously they’re not representative of all or most people their age. I know this is a them thing and not a their age thing. Actually, I have a lot of friends close to their age. They think I’m pretty cool, and I think they’re pretty cool. Because we’re nice people who don’t think a person’s value is based on how long they’ve been alive. But it would be a comment I’d make to them if I thought they’d get it.)
Similarly, but also with a bit of discrimination based on preferences due in part to mental illness and also possibly a bit about gender in a weird way, one of those women apparently hates that email is a form of communication (at least when used by young women she’s perhaps a bit intimidated by).
She actually made a meeting with two supervisor-type people and me to complain about how I sent her an email with a few questions. (I had gone to one of them, a woman a bit younger than this main character, because of the dismissive and insulting response I got from her; main character demanded the additional mediator, an older man, and the meeting in general, so that she could…get me in trouble? Validate her treatment of me? Pretend she’s always right? Pretend I’m never right? Cover up her actual mistakes that she eventually admitted to but still didn’t want to correct?).
I see her at most once a week, and the questions needed to be addressed right away. I wrote succinctly and politely, even complimenting her and clearly stating “I don’t think this is a problem” for one part (“…but it is different from how we’ve done it in the past, so we need to make sure everyone knows ahead of time.”).
She decided I was saying she wasn’t good at anything and should just give up on everything. She said that in front of the supervisors in response to something I said that was not even about her, but a general statement about programs that are developmentally appropriate being a good thing that we have going. Apparently, she didn’t know what “developmentally appropriate” meant and thought it was some subjective thing I was saying we didn’t have because of her? (Also, I’d never tell anyone that they’re not good at anything, because it’s really stupid and against all my philosophies for life, but whatever.)
Eventually, they convinced her that I might have some good ideas because I do indeed have relevant knowledge and experience and training and education, and she, in an obviously insincere manner, asked for an idea for an upcoming event. I gave one. The supervisors liked it. She said she’d do it. She didn’t. She didn’t even pretend, and, surprise, the event didn’t go very well because it was poorly designed for the target group. I ended up leading a few spontaneous activities because it was basically over after five minutes…and there were over 30 minutes left. I wonder what might have helped avoid that? Or what could have helped make the next similar event not a repeat of those problems? She saw all that, and actually acknowledged that it was good I knew what to do then…but didn’t seem to be able to apply that realization to anything else.
Yet I was the one “in trouble” at the end of the meeting and told to change. Apparently type is not something people can understand. (Because books haven’t been a thing for centuries?) I was told that I should only communicate with anyone there through face to face talking, except maybe for specific scheduling (which the original email was, so…?).
Way to totally ignore a whole bunch of neurodiversity and mental illness issues (plus general comfort, productivity, and practicality). Thanks. (Yes, the psych part is known to the male supervisor. He just doesn’t seem to get it. He also uses email and writes newsletters frequently. So…?) (Now, there’s a new supervisory type person who is a man close to her age and who prefers email/other text-based communication for efficiency and later reference. He also values my knowledge and experience. Ha!…well, the fact that he types doesn’t seem to bother her, only if I or one of the few other women under 40 do it. *Sigh*)
There was also the time, with the male supervisor-type and a group of adults of various ages during planning for hiring that new guy, when another similarly dispositioned woman said something about how we’d obviously need to hire someone just out of college for the job (with other comments about age and gender, and totally ignoring that college can happen at any point in a person’s life after high school, not just at 18-23). I said I didn’t think that mattered (because age isn’t a good requirement for a job? Isn’t that obvious?), and supervisor man plus a couple others expressed surprise that I would say that…because I’ve only been out of college for a few years so obviously I must think that matters?
Part of the job involved working with kids and teens, but a lot is also with parents and adults in general. Some of the people there seemed to be under the impression that kids and especially teens would not like or respect anyone “old” even though they had absolutely no evidence for that. Most of the “favorite teachers” I know, who work with kids and teens every day, are not just a few years older than their students (though some are, because…kids don’t care!). We ended up with a man in his late 50s (I think), which is probably good because some of them seem to actually have the opposite problem they thought the kids might (but don’t, because duh). Adults these days…*shakes head*
Well, that’s enough for now, I think. Hope that wasn’t too bitter and/or snarky and/or full of punctuation marks for you.
Oh, also, people discriminate against sheep all the time. Buildings and all the rest of society are almost never ungulate-friendly. Please check your privilege.