Discrimination Real Life Stories
African-Americans can’t vote
I had just been honorably discharged from the Army following my service in the Korean War. I was an African-American trying to register to vote in my home town of Birmingham, AL. I was still wearing my Army uniform as I entered the voting registrar’s office. I explained that I simply want to register to vote. The official looked me in the eye, points to a huge jar full of beads on his desk and says, “If you can count all the beads in this jar, you can vote.”
Women aren’t financially responsible?
I always wanted to go to college, even though my parents would be unable to help financially. But fortunately my high school had a student loan program. So in my senior year, I applied for a college loan. I was a very good student and expected no problem. I made an appointment to meet with the school’s College Counselor and this is what he told me, “We don’t like to make loans to girls because when they get married they stop paying back the loan.” I was aghast. I told him, “I will pay back the loan. You can trust me!” I did finally receive the loan and paid it back during my first year after graduating from college.
Annie, age 18, North Carolina
“But I was here first.”
I’m an African-American and I’ve lived in this very white city for 30 years. I’m a college graduate, a former state official and have been active in community life. The other day I’m at the deli counter at a drive-in restaurant ready to place my order. I’ve been waiting patiently for the counter man to ask what I’d like. But instead of serving me, he turns to the Caucasian man behind me and asks, “Can I help you?” It was like I was invisible. I explain that I was here first but my words fell on deaf ears. The worst thing is that this situation has happened too many times lately. I get the feeling these clerks think, “This white man is probably busy and the black guy probably has a lot of time on his hands.”
Age vs ability
I had my doctorate in mathematics, taught in a large national university for 35 years, and when I retired I moved and taught a few courses in a small regional college for three years. I enjoyed it tremendously and believed I brought an expertise to the institution. But the year I reached 76, the college refused to renew my contract and never gave me an explanation. Just let me go with no reason. Was I suddenly too old?
“But George is a boy!”
It was in an elementary school of grades 1-8. There were 40 students in my class. It was graduation time and a special award would be given to the student with the highest grade average. And that would be me! My mother and dad were so proud of my accomplishment. However at the graduation ceremony the principal awarded the prize, not to me, but to George Byrd. I was disappointed but my mother was furious. Later she met with the principal to ask why George was chosen over me. The principal explained, “Your daughter is only a girl. But George is a boy!”
Nancy, New York
“Blacks must enter through the back door.”
My mother told me this story so many times. I was a five-year old African-American boy, living in Alabama. My mother and I were heading for this white restaurant to have a sandwich. The law said that African-Americans were not allowed to enter by the front door. But I was only five and of course unable to read, so when we got close to the restaurant, I bolted from her hand and ran for the front door. A bus driver observing my action, raced to block me and grabbed me so hard I cried. Later we went around to the back door, bought our sandwiches and ate them under a tree.
“Pay me what I’m worth!”
Did I ever feel discriminated against? Only once, but it continues every day. The man who’s now my boss…I remember when he joined our company. He couldn’t do half the things I did every day. But guess what? Now he’s my boss and makes a ton of money more than me. But he’s a man. And me, I’m only a woman.
Qualified but too old?
For several years I’d been the top CEO in a large Red Cross organization and of course during that time I’d raised several hundred thousands of dollars. A year or two after I retired, I started to get restless. One day I saw an ad by a non –profit organization in which they were looking for an Assistant Fundraiser. I thought to myself, “Sounds interesting. I guess I’ll look into it.” A few days later I visited the agency’s office, read their literature and told the secretary I was interested in the position. A few minutes later the Executive Director came out to meet me. He outlined the scope of the job. It was right up my alley. I knew I could be a great asset to their organization. But, without asking my background or fundraising qualifications, he ended the interview abruptly and returned to his office. All I can conclude is that they were looking for a person a lot younger than me!
Greg, New Jersey
I was brought up on a farm in the Midwest. My parents were from Russia and spoke German at home. We farm kids attended one-room elementary schools before we were bussed to the city for high school. Many of us were good students. I later graduated from Michigan State University. However, we seldom were invited to participate in after-school activities. We simply were “different.” My dad read the newspaper, listened to the radio and spoke good English, but my mother, whose command of English was poor at best, was often ridiculed by the city folk. Many of our fellow citizens looked down upon us as “foreigners.”
“Get to the back of the line.”
I guess I was about 45 at the time. I was an African-American and a top salesman for the telephone company in Boston. It was lunch time and I was in the company’s cafeteria standing in line waiting to be served when this white guy behind me leaned over and said, “Why don’t you get back to the end of the line where you belong!” I think he was a VP at the time.
Discrimination? I guess so. Here in prison we discriminate against sex offenders and child abusers. We think they are the scum of the earth Worse than the murderers. Even the staff feels that way. When a new prisoner comes in and he’s a sex offender, the staff leaks this information to the prisoners. We discriminate against them because we think they deserve it.
Becoming a Humanist
“As long as there are tests, there will be praying in schools.”
Can anyone become a humanist?
Yes. There are no entrance exams, dues, secret handshakes. No initiation ceremony, nothing to sign or pledge. Humanism is a way of thinking, a philosophy. Not a religion, not a secret society.
How does a person become a humanist?
By reading, listening, talking, comparing, thinking.
Is it necessary to be a member of a humanist organization to be a humanist?
No. No more than it is necessary to be a donor or worker for the Republican party to be considered a Republican. (Or a Democrat or an Independent.)
Is there a ceremony, an initiation?
No, humanism is a way of thinking, not a club or an organization.
“Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Deal with it.”
“I am a humanist, which means in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after I am dead.”
“The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.”