The Many Faces of Discrimination

I’m yet to meet someone who openly admits to discriminate against a person or a specific group of people.  As our culture  evolved, less and less groups may be discriminated against and a new expression was born: “Politically correct.”

Politically correct, doesn’t mean discrimination disappeared overnight or  slowly. Perhaps, it only means  it is “whispered about,” instead of “screamed out loud!”

In a country like ours, also known as “the melting pot,” the concept of discrimination should logically not even exit.  Unless one is Native American, we, or our ancestors, came here from elsewhere, for some reason, at one time or another. Yet, more than ever, the topic of discrimination is passionately debated, to admit the least.

As a first generation immigrant, I often wondered what’s “the big deal?”  I am still debating in my own mind, and decided to write about it in hopes by the time I am finished writing this post, “clarity,” or at least more understanding of the true roots of this serious issue, would become more obvious.

Who are those discriminated against?

Legally, in our culture we make a written statement on all documents that there is NO discrimination based on age, race, sexual preference, sex, disability, etc.

However, daily we hear news and  watch images of violence directed against certain groups just because they don’t conform to certain norms of acceptable. Often, we know or hear about people who were not hired because of their age or a disability, or were fired just as they were about to reach the age to qualify for certain benefits or retirement.

If life were as generous with you, as it were with me, you might even have known a person who was secretly going through the process of changing their gender. People who presented themselves as men for their 9 AM- 5 PM jobs and transformed themselves in ladies to go out of the house after dark for fear the neighbors would discover their secret.

Recently, I watched “The Imitation Game,” a historical thriller starring  Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of Alan Turing, the cryptananalyst whose work, and his team’s, during  World War II saved the lives of approximately 14 million people. Alan Turing was gay  when in England to be gay was still considered  a crime. He was given the choice to either go to prison or subject himself to hormonal therapy. He chose the latter and after a year completed suicide…His work saved the lives of millions, but no one saved his!

Volumes could be written about racial discrimination, disability, gender, but I am not aware of much having been discussed about  discrimination against a white,  educated   woman  who legally  immigrated from Europe to the United States. No one, to the best of my knowledge even thinks of such a possibility! One might be tempted to think such a person is privileged.

I might have never thought discrimination against such a person existed but I am  one of these people and my experiences of a life-time are factual.

I remember, when I was successful at my first job, which involved public speaking, and although bilingual, I have an accent, my boss’ remark was:

“When I hired you and your accent, I gambled! I thought, if the audience likes ‘IT” (my accent and me!!!) that’s great! If not, I’ll fire her!”

When a few years later I told him I was expecting a baby, he said:

” Well, that teaches me a lesson, never to hire women of child-bearing age!”

One might consider these comments insignificant, perhaps I was too sensitive, and may be compared to the horrific way other groups and people are discriminated against, what has happened to me throughout my life, pales. Not so with the event which triggered my intense thoughts about discrimination. Here is the story:

My neighbor rushed me in the E.R. of a major hospital.  The first reaction of a medical professional working in the triage  where I was rushed was to tell my neighbor,

“May be she speaks like this because she is not from here.”

He assured this medical professional I did know English  and that was not the way I spoke when I didn’t have a stroke!

The neurologist arrived in time and the miracle drug hPA was given to me. A drug which completely reversed my symptoms ONLY  BECAUSE IT WAS GIVEN within an hour from the start of the stroke’s symptoms!

In other words, if my friend was not there to speak up for me, I could have been misdiagnosed and in the best case scenario died, in the worst, become a vegetable, in a nursing home, for the rest of my life!






A combination

Has anyone thought that an European, educated woman, could have lost her life because she had an accent and someone, in the triage of an ER was BLINDED by their habit to discriminate to such a degree that  the symptoms of a stroke could have been missed?

As I  hoped,, I gained some clarity on  this topic:

I conclude that in truth, discrimination is not about the people or the groups discriminated against, but about those who have so little education, such huge egos and narrowness of minds to not understand that the world doesn’t start and end with them and their values.

As the story illustrated,  anyone could be discriminated against! It could be anyone, anywhere!  Be proud of who you are and live your lives with purpose and in peace!

Rodica M.








Politically “Correct!” Is It Dumb, or… IS It Dumb???

With Thanksgiving  to be celebrated this week and Christmas around the corner, we are faced again with the life shattering question: Do I wish someone Happy Thanksgiving, or even more important, dare I say, “Merry Christmas?” May be, to be on the safe side I replace it all with “Happy Holidays!”

I found myself falling into this trap and buying stamps which illustrate a flower and not Mary and Jesus and buying cards which are either blank inside, so I could write my personal message, or say, ” Happy Holidays!” Well, this year I solved the problem, I’m cutting no more trees, I am NOT sending any cards. The money spend on cards could go to Salvation Army and help the poor regardless of which “holiday” they celebrate

I was already aggravated by the “Happy Holidays” dilemma, when I have noticed another general effort to make our society “politically correct.”

When I dial any commercial company I have the choice to press 1 for Spanish,  which I don’t, because I don’t need the service. Last week I called my health insurance company to compare  health plans. After going through all the computarized Aunt Judy’s of the world who, in a calm voice stated over and over “may be I could help you?” “Did you say…” No, no no please, I scream in a voice that makes Judy stop for a second, ” I NEED to speak to a HUMAN!”

At last I get a human. He is polite. I explain what I need, he responds back and we converse in ENGLISH for at least five minutes,  and I explain to him in detail my complex needs: I need to pay less for my health insurance! As we are in the mist of the conversation, speaking in ENGLISH,  suddenly he probably remembers the company’s training and asks me:  “Do you need a translator, or are you comfortable speaking in English?”

I am speechless! We have  been speaking in English for a while. I stated my needs, he replied. What does this mean, that some people are so brain-washed that they dare not use common sense  to judge:

If this person and I SPOKE in English for a while, clearly she speaks and understands English! If she didn’t, HOW would she even understand my asking, ‘do you need a translator?’ asked in ENGLISH?

As millions other American citizens,  I have an accent because I came to the U.S in my twenties. I also hold a B.A. in English and Romanian and am a translator. I also hold a M.S. in Counseling and Clinical Psychology from an accredited U.S. college, I am a publish author in English… I consider myself bilingual. If I didn’t speak English, I would have pressed ONE for Spanish which is spoken in Spanish by the computer voice at the beginning of the menu.

Why do we assume? I might be comfortable speaking Mandarin…
I am wondering what would he have done if I asked for a translator in  the Mandarin language?

I applaud the idea of politeness, of being aware of everyone’s needs but isn’t it taking it too far? After all we made a choice to be in America, perhaps it would be nice to make an extra effort and learn the language of the land?

Perhaps, if I have a cross as a necklace and I converse with someone in English for a while, “the assumption” could be, this person is a Christian, so wishing “Merry Christmas,” is appropriate, and if she spoke with me in English for ten minutes, it is okay to “assume,” the person does not need a translator.

In conclusion: People use your brains!

Oh! Happy Holidays”:) EVERYONE!