Discrimination as defined by google.com:
"Unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice."
Prejudice as defined by google.com:
"Dislike, hostility, or unjust behavior formed on such a basis."
We all would like to think the US has grown as a society since the days before the civil rights movement of the 60s. In a lot of ways we have. Many of the older prejudices so common in that bygone era are now heavily ridiculed by society at large. But, there are some prejudices that are still widely accepted and reinforced. These are the prejudices commonly not thought of. I don't mean to discuss the still prevalent prejudices involving race or sex, though such prejudices should not be ignored either. Rather, the prejudices I want to discuss are the prejudices we accept.
Do you all remember this commercial?
Little people are society's entertainment because they look different then the average person. Besides Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or Willow I can't you think of a time when little people were anything but comic relief in any form of media. In my personal life, I have actually heard people say that they are scared of little people. They are scared by people who don't look like them. For example, apparently a McDonald's employee screamed and ran away from a little person when that person tried to order a meal (http://consumerist.com/2008/03/mcdonalds-worker-screams-and-runs-away-from-little-people-probably-shouldnt-be-assigned-to-register.html).
How about the prejudice of overweight people? I recently have started working on my knees through physical therapy. One of the therapists' aides asked me what I was going to school for. I told him that I'm in graduate school trying to become a psychologist. He said that he couldn't do that job because he doesn't have sympathy for a lot of people. He mentioned overweight people. He said he can't stand hearing overweight people complain about things involving their weight as they are just lazy and don't try hard enough to lose their weight. This isn't a belief kept to just this person. In an article discussing overweight prejudices, one doctor was quoted as saying, "“If we’re worried about climate change, someone comes out with an article about how heavier people weigh more, so they require more fuel, and they blame the climate change crisis on fatter people. We have this strong belief system that it’s their fault, that it’s all about gluttony or lack of exercise.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/16essa.html). It's not so much that an overweight person is unable to lose weight, it's the fact that it is somehow ok to blame an overweight person for their physical stature.
How about a prejudice toward Muslims in America? Ever since 9/11 and it was found out that terrorists calling themselves Muslims were behind the attack, there has been a strong anti-Muslim sentiment in the US. I know from personal experience that at one of my previous jobs a coworker of mine once told me that Americans shouldn't vote for Obama as he is a Muslim (back when that rumor was popular) and "that's who we are fighting". He's not alone in his opinion. A recent survey of 1,007 Americans showed that, "...thirty-nine percent of respondents to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll said they felt at least some prejudice against Muslims. The same percentage favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID "as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States." About one-third said U.S. Muslims were sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and 22% said they wouldn't want Muslims as neighbors." (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-08-09-muslim-american-cover_x.htm).
This entire post is designed as a way to show that prejudices don't just involve the popular ones we all know of. The hope behind me making this post is that we can open up and become more aware of the prejudices that surround us all the time and work toward stopping them. You don't have to join a protest or some group to do this. Stand up to those who push those prejudices forward. Call out those that make fun of little people, blame overweight people for one thing or another or call all Muslims terrorists. Further, these examples are not all encompassing. Prejudices are a part of society no matter the society discussed. But that inevitability is not an excuse to throw one's arms up in discouragement. Stand up to these prejudices and don't support those that continue to perpetuate that hate.