prejudice and bigotry
Andre Koen: So what are micro-inequities? Micro-inequities are those small things, the small slights that an individual uses to make a difference between him and another individual in a negative way. In the '60s, in 1964, we signed the Civil Rights Act and there are there was this legislation that talked about how people can be treated in the workplace and what's acceptable in our civil society around voting, around equal rights and so forth and so on. That stuff became very clear. It became very clear about how people can act in our society and our organizations. But since that time, it's become very difficult to actually move in some significant ways in terms of creating equity for people.
One of the things that I do know is that, actually let me back up. Because what I want to talk about is discrimination, and then we'll talk more about micro-inequities. First of all, what is discrimination? Well, before we get to discrimination, let's talk about prejudice, bigotry, and then we'll talk about discrimination.
What is bigotry? Bigotry is an emotional feeling that one has that's not based in logic. It's not based in facts. It is just an emotional feeling that one has about another group of people. That's bigotry. It's an emotional feeling that you have.
What is prejudice? Prejudice is a cognitive mindset that one has about the other, about another group. There may be facts, there may not be facts. It is a mental construct, it's a mental gymnastics, if you will, that one takes themselves through to justify the third part of our equation, which is discrimination.
Bigotry is an emotional feeling. It's how I feel on the inside. I don't have any facts about it. I don't need to have facts about it. It's just how I feel. That's what I feel.
Then there is prejudice, which is the mental gymnastics or the things that go on inside your head, the thoughts that you have about other people.
Then finally, as the third leg in the stool of oppression is the concept of discrimination. Discrimination is an act. It is a behavior that I can measure. It's a behavior that I can look at information and find facts about. There are laws that are written that determine what is discrimination and what's not discrimination. Discrimination is an act. Bigotry is an emotion, prejudice is a thought, and discrimination is an act.
There are not laws that tell people how they can feel. People actually can be bigoted. In some ways, I would say it's OK for them to be a bigot. Now I'll talk more about that a little bit later. Maybe in another book. We'll get more clarity on that. I can't give someone a ticket, I can't arrest them for having the emotion of being a bigot, having that emotional frame of reference.
Also, in terms of prejudice, it's the way I think. I can't really legislate how people think. I can't legislate their heart and I can't legislate their mind. I can't legislate how they think. But I can legislate how they act towards other people. In terms of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice, they are very distinct things. We have to be mindful of that.
What I would offer is that discrimination just does not pop up one day and just exist. I would say that discrimination is built on a framework. Then the final fruit of that framework is what we call discrimination.
How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. That's actually how we end up digesting an acting out in ways that we would say are discriminatory. It is through micro-inequities that we start taking that bite of that elephant. Before we know it, our stomach is full of discrimination and we're acting that stuff out.
How do micro-inequities play into discrimination? They are the small things that slowly build and build and build until you have a person that thinks it's OK, or in an atmosphere that accepts the fact that people treat themselves or treat each other without dignity and honor and being human.
Micro-inequities are those small things. They are the thoughts. It is the bigoted mindset. It is also the emotions, the bigoted emotions that people have. It is the prejudices that they have. But they have not escalated to the level of discrimination.
It's all these small things. It's times and interactions that you have with people and you question what just happened. Did, did that just, what was that? Because you're not clear. I would say that those are hints at micro-inequities. We'll talk a little more about micro-inequities in the next chapter.
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.