Driver’s License Discrimination
I’m a dark-skinned boy of 16, born in Nicaragua, and adopted by a wonderful white middle income American couple. Like most 16-year-old boys, I was anxious to get my driver’s license. Previously I had passed the state’s driving test and rules test. My mother drove me to the state Motor Vehicle office and I got in line. The lady clerk asked for my birth certificate and I handed it to her. She said, “But this does not prove that you are a US citizen. You need further proof. Do you have any papers to prove that you are a US citizen?” I called my mom over and she talked to the clerk. Mom handed her my Social Security card. The clerk responded, “Well, they give Social Security cards to non-citizens. So this is not proof. You’ll have to show me his naturalization papers. And if you can’t locate them, you’ll have to contact the Nicaraguan consulate in Washington, DC.” Later I returned to the office, met with a different lady clerk and gave her my naturalization papers. She looked at them quizzically and said, “You didn’t need to bring these papers. Your birth certificate is sufficient.” She then took my photo and handed me my driver’s license. I really think that the first clerk didn’t like the color of my skin.
“You’ll all go to hell”
A large group of us attended a funeral service of a dear friend at a Catholic church. During the service, the elderly priest observed that many of us were not Catholic and were not participating in the kneeling , crossing and other Catholic rituals, either because we didn’t feel confident that we could perform them successfully or that we simply chose not to do so. He glowered at those of us not participating and said, “You non-believers. You’ll all go to hell.”
Nancy, Rhode Island
“One, you are a woman”
I was 32 and employed by a large national firm. I had an appointment to make a sales presentation to the CEO of a regional bank. His assistant ushered me into the impressive office of the CEO. Soon the CEO entered the room, took one look at me and said, “You and I can’t meet today. One, you are a woman. And two, you are too young to know anything about my business.” Then he added, “If you want to do business with us, I’m going to have to meet with your boss. I hope he’s a man and older than you. You see I need a credible source if we are to do business together.” I must tell you that this CEO was Saudi-Arabian and maybe a cultural difference was present. Certainly his concept of women in the workplace was different. I observed that the bank employed several women but none of them held executive or managerial positions.
Short and rather plain
It started when I was younger, but it persists to this day. I’m short and not the prettiest woman in town. When I meet a new group of people I notice right away that they drift toward the woman who’s pretty and tall. All my life I’ve had to work harder to get over that initial barrier. The good news is that once people get to know me, things are fine. But sometimes getting over that initial barrier is difficult. Two of my friends are both Scandinavian, tall and beautiful. But they’re getting older. On a hike last year, they were commiserating how getting older wasn’t much fun because now when they walk down the street “the guys don’t look at us anymore.”
“It’s part of your job.”
I had just graduated from Boston University with a degree in Economics and had been hired by Merrill Lynch in their bond department, along with two men. We all had the same education and were the same age. I immediately observed that this was a male-dominated business. In fact, when it was announced that I, a female, was hired, there was much derisive laughter. What was not so funny was the difference in compensation. The two men were paid much more than me. And when they sold a bond, they received a commission. But when I sold a bond that was “part of your job.” And these were large corporate bonds, often in the millions of dollars. I left the firm after a year. Maybe I should have stayed longer because soon after I left, a Class Action lawsuit evened the playing field somewhat.
Rebecca, New Jersey
The best candidate
I was a public school teacher and I was applying for my first principalship. I felt qualified. I had a Master’s degree and the support of the city’s superintendent of schools. But I did not get the job. I was told that the person chosen had more experience. I thought, “Well, at least I tried.” Later a member of the Selection Committee phoned me, “I’m so incensed. You clearly were the best candidate. Do you know why you didn’t get the job? It’s because you were a female!”
Some Humanist Concepts
Do humanists want the same things out of life that believers want?
There are some things that almost everyone on earth wants and here are some of them.
To feel safe.
To be healthy, physically and mentally.
To have sufficient shelter, food, clean water, clean air.
To be free to speak, gather, talk, act, read.
To be given the opportunity to be happy.
To enjoy equal opportunities for yourself, family, and friends.
To feel good about yourself.
Do humanists have a sacred book, like the Christian Bible or the Muslim Quran?
No. Humanism is not a religion. It is a philosophy, a way of thinking. There are many books about and authored by humanists, but none are sacred.
Do humanists believe that God favors one nation over another during time of war?
No. However, down through history, all nations at war have believed that God was on their side.
Why People Discriminate
You’re not the same color as me.
You don’t vote for the same people I do.
You talk funny.
You have stupid religious beliefs.
You and I have nothing in common.
You’re a gay.
You’re a lesbian.
You’re a bi-sexual.
You’re a transgender.
You don’t watch the same TV shows I watch.
You’re old and feeble.
You’re an ex-convict.
You’re a female.
You make me feel threatened.