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Discrimination

  • Religious bigotry is a dull fire — hot enough to roast an ox, but with no lambent, luminous flame shooting up from it.

  • No loose fish enters our quiet bay.

  • There are dozens of ways of failing to make money. It is one thing to fail to make money because your single talent happens to be a flair amounting to genius for translating the plays of Aristophanes. It is quite another thing to fail to make money because you are black, or a child, or a woman.

  • The difference between de jure and de facto segregation is the difference between open, forthright bigotry and the shamefaced kind that works through unwritten agreements between real estate dealers, school officials, and local politicians.

  • In the end, antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing — antihumanism.

  • ... our republican ideas cannot be consistently carried out while women are excluded from any share in the government. ... Any class of human beings to whom a position of perpetual subordination is assigned, however much they may be petted and flattered, must inevitably be dwarfed, morally and intellectually.

  • Given the ethnic and racial hierarchies of American life, there are those who dish it out and those who have to take it. Some get to dish it out without ever having to take it, some take it from those above and dish it out to those below, and some find themselves in the position of always having to take it. Such a position is, psychologically and emotionally speaking, almost unbearable. Rage and despair accumulate with no place to go.

  • To act in a way that is both sexist and racist, to maintain one's class privilege, it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner.

  • What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

  • All the many brands of suppression — racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, classism — are historical; they have not been always with us. It was not ever thus. And it's not going to be this way, come the revolution!

  • Oppression works in such a way that it holds every person responsible for the acts of any wrongdoer of the oppressed group.

  • ... all outcast peoples struggle to be recognized as individuals. The damage of oppression is that it robs you of your individuality. You're just a faggot. Or whatever — fill in the blank. Everything you do is seen through the prism of your gayness or your womanness or your blackness by some people.

  • We can no longer oversimplify. We can no longer build lazy and false stereotypes: Americans are like this, Russians are like that, a Jew behaves in such a way, a Negro thinks in a different way. The lazy generalities — 'You know how women are ... Isn't that just like a man?' The world cannot be understood from a single point of view.

  • A number of people still think of the United States as being overwhelmingly English, Protestant, and white. This erroneous idea influences their whole outlook.

  • The word communist, of course, has become a rallying cry for certain people here just as the word Jew was in Hitler's Germany, a way of arousing emotion without engendering thought.

  • Raising Black children — female and male — in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy. If they cannot love and resist at the same time, they will probably not survive.

  • Traditionally, in american society, it is the members of oppressed, objectified groups who are expected to stretch out and bridge the gap between the actualities of our lives and the consciousness of our oppressor. For in order to survive, those of us for whom oppression is as american as apple pie have always had to be watchers, to become familiar with the language and manners of the oppressor, even sometimes adopting them for some illusion of protection. Whenever the need for some pretense of communication arises, those who profit from our oppression call upon us to share our knowledge with them. In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Age, Race, Class, and Sex," speech (1980), Sister Outsider ()
  • Battling racism and battling heterosexism and battling apartheid share the same urgency inside me as battling cancer.

  • During years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country, I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places and turned away from apartment rentals. All for the clearly stated, sole reason that I am a woman.

  • Women get hit with a double whammy. If they're attractive, they're presumed to have slept their way to the top. If they're unattractive, they are presumed to have chosen a profession because they could not get a man.

  • ... the less powerful group usually knows the powerful one much better than vice versa — blacks have had to understand whites in order to survive, women have had to know men — yet the powerful group can afford to regard the less powerful one as a mystery.

  • If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?

  • Whatever a 'superior' group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever an 'inferior' group has will be used to justify its plight. Black men were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be 'stronger' than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be 'weaker.'

  • Clearly no one knows what leadership has gone undiscovered in women of all races, and in black and other minority men.

  • ... why is the word 'qualified' applied only to those who have to be more so?

  • ... there is bias and sexism everywhere, just like there are problems of racism and homophobia stemming from the whole notion that we're arranged in a hierarchy, that we're ranked rather than linked.

  • ... anything being perceived as being superior takes the noun. And everything that isn't, that's judged to be inferior, requires an adjective. So there are black novelists and novelists. There are women physicians and physicians. Male nurses and nurses.

  • This world taught woman nothing skillful and then said her work was valueless. It permitted her no opinions and said she did not know how to think. It forbade her to speak in public, and said the sex had no orators.

    • Carrie Chapman Catt,
    • in Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 ()
  • To get that word, male, out of the Constitution, cost the women of this country fifty-two years of pauseless campaign; 56 state referendum campaigns; 480 legislative campaigns to get state suffrage amendments submitted; 47 state constitutional convention campaigns; 277 state party convention campaigns; 30 national party convention campaigns to get suffrage planks in the party platforms; 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses to get the federal amendment submitted, and the final ratification campaign.

  • Had I been crested, not cloven, my Lords, you had not treated me thus.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • to courtiers, in Nigel Nicolson, Portrait of a Marriage ()
  • There is something frightful in being required to enjoy and appreciate all masterpieces; to read with equal relish Milton, and Dante, and Calderon, and Goethe, and Homer, and Scott, and Voltaire, and Wordsworth, and Cervantes, and Molière, and Swift.

  • ... I saw no poor men, except a few intemperate ones. I saw some very poor women; but God and man know that the time has not come for women to make their injuries even heard of.

  • If a test of civilization be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power,--from the exercise of the right of the strongest. Tried by this test, the American civilization appears to be of a lower order than might have been expected from other symptoms of its social state. The Americans have, in the treatment of women, fallen below, not only their own democratic principles but the practice of some parts of the Old World. The unconsciousness of both parties as to the injuries suffered by women at the hands of those who hold the power is a sufficient proof of the low degree of civilization in this important particular at which they rest. While women's intellect is confined, her morals crushed, her health ruined, her weaknesses encouraged, and her strength punished, she is told that her lot is cast in the paradise of women: and there is no country in the world where there is so much boasting of the 'chivalrous' treatment she enjoys. ... In short, indulgence is given her as a substitute for justice.

  • ... the uncandid censurer always picks out the worst man of a class, and then confidently produces him as being a fair specimen of it.

  • Fashions in bigotry come and go. The right thing lasts.

  • Stereotypes fall in the face of humanity. We human beings are best understood one at a time.

  • But the paradox is here: when cultivated people do stay away from a certain portion of the population, when all social advantages are persistently withheld, it may be for years, the result itself is pointed to as a reason and is used as an argument for the continued withholding.

  • The melting pot's recipe may utilize a host of different ingredients, but they are subjected to a homogenization process whose purpose is to produce that 'All-American' product. And that product is certainly not dark-skinned, does not speak American Sign Language or with an 'ethnic accent,' is not poor, is certainly not lesbian or gay, and is not old.

    • Paula Ross,
    • "Women, Oppression, Privilege, and Competition," in Valerie Miner and Helen E. Longino, eds., Competition ()
  • Just as the difference in height between males is no longer a realistic issue, now that lawsuits have been substituted for hand-to-hand encounters, so the difference in strength between men and women is no longer worth elaboration in cultural institutions.

  • ... American society is very like a fish society, based as it is on length of residence in a community rather than upon original antecedents or special personality characteristics. ... among certain species of fish, the only thing which determines order of dominance is length of time in the fish-bowl. The oldest resident picks on the newest resident, and if the newest resident is removed to a new bowl, he as oldest resident will pick on the newcomers.

  • Once any group in society stands in a relatively deprived position in relation to other groups, it is genuinely deprived.

  • ... as a society emphasizes and values some aspects of the total range of human potentials more than others, the valued aspects are associated closely with, and limited to, the dominant group's domain.

  • For it is precisely because certain groups have no representation in a number of recognized political structures that their position tends to be so stable, their oppression so continuous.

  • They are a very extensive minority who have suffered discrimination and who have the same right to participation in the promise and fruits of society as every other individual.

  • One of the benefits that oppression confers upon the oppressors is that the most humble among them is made to feel superior; thus, a poor white in the South can console himself with the thought that he is not a 'dirty nigger' — and the more prosperous whites cleverly exploit this pride. Similarly, the most mediocre of males feels himself a demigod as compared with women.

  • When an individual (or a group of individuals) is kept in a situation of inferiority, the fact is that he is inferior. But the significance of the verb to be must be rightly understood here; it is in bad faith to give it a static value when it really has the dynamic Hegelian sense of 'to have become.'

  • Who's counting? It was, of course, the minority who were counting. It always is. Most of the women I know today would dearly like to use their fingers and toes for some activity more enthralling than counting. They have been counting for so long. But the peculiar problem of the new math is that every time we stop adding, somebody starts subtracting. At the very least (the advanced students will understand this) the rate of increase slows. ... The minority members of any group or profession have two answers: They can keep score or they can lose.

  • It is the curse of minorities in this power-worshipping world that either from fear or from an uncertain policy of expedience they distrust their own standards and hesitate to give voice to their deeper convictions, submitting supinely to estimates and characterizations of themselves as handed down by a not unprejudiced dominant majority.

  • ... 'tis woman's strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. It would be subversive of every human interest that the cry of one-half the human family be stifled. ... The world has had to limp along with the wobbling gait and one-sided hesitancy of a man with one eye. Suddenly the bandage is removed from the other eye and the whole body is filled with light. It sees a circle where before it saw a segment. The darkened eye restored, every member rejoices with it.

  • The world was one of great contrasts, she thought, and if the richest part of it was to be fenced off so that people like herself could only look at it with no expectation of ever being able to get inside it, then it would be better to have been born blind so you couldn't see it, born deaf so you couldn't hear it, born with no sense of touch so you couldn't feel it. Better still, born with no brain so that you would be completely unaware of anything, so that you would never know there were places that were filled with sunlight and good food and where children were safe.

  • It is important to understand that the system of advantage is perpetuated when we do not acknowledge its existence.

  • Our sacred beliefs have been made pencils / names of cities / gas stations / My knee is wounded so badly that I limp constantly / Anger is my crutch / I hold myself upright with it / My knee is wounded / see / How I Am Still Walking.

    • Chrystos,
    • "I Walk in the History of My People," Not Vanishing ()
  • Of course it is extremely difficult to like oneself in a culture which thinks you are a disease.

    • Chrystos,
    • "I Don't Understand Those Who Have Turned Away from Me," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • While women were tortured, drowned and burned by the thousands, scarce one wizard to a hundred was ever condemned ... The same distinction of sex appears in our own day. One code of morals for men, another for women.

  • ... in spite of everything, we never gave up. The more we were despised, the harder we worked. We always had hope that some day things would be better. If not for us, then for our children.

  • Though the female life force is indomitable, there is no question that millennia of second-class status has left a mark on our psyches. (Make that third-class status if God is involved).

  • Discrimination against women in job assignments, training and promotion, affects employers and our total economy as much as it does women. To fail to maintain the pace is to come out second-rate as a nation.

  • They always said, 'Pull yourself up by your bootstrap.' So we did. And what happened? First they snatched the strap, and then they took the boot.

  • If the majority culture know so little about us, it must be our problem, they seem to be telling us; the burden of teaching is on us.

    • Mitsuye Yamada,
    • "Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • ... the trouble with discrimination is not discrimination per se but rather that the people who are discriminated against think of themselves as second-class.

    • Rosalyn Yalow,
    • in Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Nobel Prize Women in Science ()
  • hiss panicsss / as in from Hispania? / where's that? / non-existent country / non-existent people / no history or geography / no tongue to speak / of struggle.

  • Women and people of color often have to be careful about how they convey their passion and conviction, particularly with what are considered stereotypically female or minority issues. Often expressions of passion in white men are lauded, while similar passion is often seen as emotionalism when it is expressed by women, or confrontation when it is expressed by men of color.

    • Sara E. Meléndez,
    • "An 'Outsider's' View of Leadership," in Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Richard Beckhard, eds., The Leader of the Future ()
  • Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment.

  • The caste system, in all its various forms, is always based on identifiable physical characteristics — sex, color, age.

    • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,
    • "Female Liberation as the Basis for Social Revolution," in Robin Morgan, Sisterhood Is Powerful ()
  • ... the fear of fat works ... because it's being manipulated in us to enforce class divisions, racisms, womyn-hatred. And we give it the room to work because it's so close to us, it's our own bodies, that we don't see it as coming from outside ourselves, we don't name it for the weapon it is.

    • Elana Dykewomon,
    • "Traveling Fat," in Christian McEwen and Sue O'Sullivan, eds., Out the Other Side ()
  • There are levels of outrage, and there's a point at which you can't be trespassed upon anymore.

  • Justice is not blind — she very often 'peeks' to determine the race, economic status, sex, and religion of persons prior to determination of guilt.

  • Class supremacy, male supremacy, white supremacy — it's all the same game. If you're on top of someone, the society tells you that you are better. It gives you access to its privileges and security, and it works both to keep you on top and to keep you thinking that you deserve to be there.

    • Coletta Reid,
    • in Coletta Reid and Charlotte Bunch, Class and Feminism ()
  • Minorities have never been given their rights. They have always had to wage a political and legal battle to win them.

  • ... if you were going to compete successfully in a white man's world, you had to learn to play the white man's game. It was not enough that an Indian be as good as; an Indian had to be better than.

  • ... calls for equal treatment are often seen as calls for 'special treatment' in situations where discrimination has become the norm.

  • I am Chicana / Bastard child of the universe / because you make me so.

  • Now, see there. Just because I'm wearing my Super-Dike sweatshirt, you think I'm a lesbian. I guess if I were wearing a string of pearls, you'd think I was an oyster.

  • [On gays in the military:] If we wanted to be part of an institution that is hostile to gays and women, we'd just stay home with our families.

  • Being an Other, in America, teaches you to imagine what can't imagine you.

  • I think gender discrimination is bad for everyone, it's bad for men, it's bad for children. ... Think of how the Constitution begins. 'We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union.' But we're still striving for that more perfect union. And one of the perfections is for the 'we the people' to include an ever enlarged group.

    • Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
    • in Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg ()