Skip to main content

Going Postal: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I wrote this paper my last semester in Psychology. I thought it might be of benefit to anyone who reads it. Enjoy :)

Prejudice and discrimination are very human traits. Both work hand-in-hand with differentiating things from one another. In all of our uniqueness, it is easier for our human minds to group people and things together in order to make sense of the world that we live in. Piaget’s theory suggested that, “dividing the world into meaningful categories is vital to thinking about objects or concepts and their relationships” (Papalia, 158). Prejudice is a mere assessment of a certain group of people. Discrimination is the behavior taken towards these different groups of people. Both can be positive and modes for survival, as many of our mechanisms are. According to Papalia and associates, “infants may be born with a rudimentary ability to discern certain limited categories (such as snakes and spiders) that are dangerous to humans” (Papalia, 158). Both prejudice and discrimination taken to an extreme can be very dangerous.

Individuals also faction themselves within groups, the social identity theory states that in order to gain self-worth and a sense of pride, people separate themselves into groups. “Social identity theory suggests that people are ethnocentric, viewing the world from their own perspective and judging others in terms of their group membership” (Feldman, 605). When the concept of “us” vs. “them” sets in however, disconcerting things can start happening. Once the marginalized group begins to be degraded and their value lessened as constructive individuals within society, prejudice and racism and all sorts of human wrong are brought up out of the woodwork. The moment this begins, the skills of prejudice and discrimination are no longer positive; they become negative and the ugliest forms of human nature are exposed. Prejudice and discrimination can take on almost animalistic tendencies, specifically rearing its head at a group of individuals and drawing conclusions on their superficial appearance and not on single individuals.

I am an American-Muslim woman, who covers her hair in public and trys to adhere to the Islamic religious code. In July of 2008, I walked into a PostNet Store to send a package to my family in North Carolina. It was a sunny day and I was in a great mood. Little did I know that once I would step foot in this store, I would come out completely shaken. Both my daughter (3 years old) and my son (4 months old) were with me. I waited in line to send my package and I did not really notice that the woman behind the counter was not in the best mood. I needed the typical packing bubbles for my mail and everything was ready to go. The lady then looked at me and asked me to leave. I did not know what was going on, both my children were in the double stroller, quiet and peaceful. I wanted to send my package and she started to bellow “GET OUT OF HERE!” I was completely blown away by her reaction, so I stood there dumbfounded. My daughter looked up at me and was at the brink of tears. I asked if I had done anything to offend her and she told me that she reserved the right not to do business with me. This did not settle well with me of course and I asked for her manager, upon telling me her manager was not available, she again tried to kick me out of the store. I asked for her manager’s name and she refused to give it to me. I turned to leave, and there was an Indian man standing behind me. Her first response to him was “ARE YOU WITH HER?!” He replied, “No I just want to send the CD”. I asked if she jumped to that conclusion because of the color or his skin. She refused to answer.

I told my friends about this incident and they told me that we should go back and try to talk to the manager. I was not sure if she was just having a bad day or if she was always that way with people that looked different or had other ideologies then her. As a baseline I had a Muslim friend (that wears the hair covering – a pharmacist) and my Christian friend (a professor at St. Edwards University) enter the store separately. My Christian friend entered first and she reported that the lady was a little feisty but not that rude. When my Muslim friend and I entered the store, I approached her respectfully (this time without the children) and I told her that I did not mean to upset her the last time I walked in (even though I really had no idea what made her so mad). She again told me to leave her store. My pharmacist friend asked for the manager’s name because if she was not the manager she was not allowed to kick me out of the store. She again refused. She did not know that we had her recorded.

I wrote a formal letter to PostNet, attached the audio file and requested that she get diversity training. I was part of an organization that trains people in understanding diversity – finding “peace through knowledge”. She seemed to have been completely surrounded by the same homogenous group of people, creating a bubble around herself, not allowing anyone with different color skin or religion in her sphere. This aspect of the conflict greatly demonstrated the social identity theory and ethnocentricity that this woman lived in. The company promptly fired her. I was not happy the outcome because now her animosity towards Muslims and different people in general would be even stronger. I deeply believe that diversity training would have done her and the community a lot more good. People can be very pleasant and the commonalities can be endless once a relationship is formed.

Arrogance and prejudice of all forms have taken place throughout time and place. Beginning in Heaven, when Iblees (Satan) would not bow down to Adam because Adam was made of mud and Iblees was made of fire (according to Islamic beliefs), humanity has undergone a long and bloody history of conceit, fear and hatred (Quran, 38:76). The only way to fight this roller coaster of racism, prejudice and discrimination is through knowledge. Hating people is a lot easier than finding reasons to like them. Humanity will never see through the veil of our differences if knowledge and compassion are not shared. There are beautiful things in people; unfortunately the ugly ones leave the deepest marks. In the words of Charlotte Bronte, “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among stone” (http://thinkexist.com/quotations/prejudice/2.html).



Works Sited


Feldman, Robert. Understanding Psychology-Ninth Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

Papalia, Diane E., Sally Wendkos Olds, and Ruth Duskin Feldman. Human Development-Eleventh Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.

The Holy Quran-with English Translation-Third Edition. New Delhi, India: Millat Book Centre, 1996. Print.

Charlotte Bronte quote. http://thinkexist.com/quotations/prejudice/2.html.

For intensive purposes, the company apologized and was very gracious in dealing with the situation. I was merely remarking on one individual's actions and in no way reflecting the ethics of this company in particular.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Digital Art by Sabah Waheed

  Here at Just Ask A Muslim, we like to give voices to our youth.  We want to make sure that they get the chance to express themselves in safe spaces. The digital art below is by Sabah Waheed, a friend of  one of our girls from youth group.  Please join us in letting her know how appreciated her work is.  Keep up the great work Sabah! Thanks for your contribution.   If your Muslim child has a talent for art or writing and would like to contribute, please send us a message and we will be in touch! -Just Ask A Muslim Crew

A Message of Hope from your Muslim Neighbor

"Verily, with Hardship comes Ease." (Quran 94:6) As I listen to the news everyday, I realize more and more the true colors of our Nation. I'm not talking about the ugly colors we see on the news, I'm talking about the beautiful colors we are as a people.  America is full of diversity and beauty.  We are better than all of the riff-raff in Washington right now. The more horrible things pop up in front of the us, the more good people are taking a stance to say that this is not going to be our new norm.  Trump's America is not Our America.  I am sure that there will be ease at the end of this insanity.  I don't think that things will ever be the same as pre-Trump, but I am sure that it will be better.  Trump has destroyed a lot of things in his path, but he has unintentionally done one thing, he has united us as a people.  Through his attacks on all things diverse, we as an American people, have stood up to say that this is what makes America beautifu

Bye Don!

It has been a harrowing 1360 days, 13 hours and 20 minutes since Donald J. Trump became the "President" of the United States.  It has been difficult for anyone that believes in good and promotes it. It has been hard for a lot of us.  It is time to make a change and vote!  Two hundred and forty-four years cannot go down the drain in 4 years of one person's supposed reign of our country.  It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to VOTE HIM OUT and into PRISON. Two hundred and fourteen thousand  Americans are gone today due to his negligence with the Covid-19 virus that he keeps making light of.  There are still families being torn apart on our southern border, but that story is old, right? He shocks us every.single.day. with new horrific things he's said, done or tweeted.  We are just a cast in his reality TV show.  Times up Donald, we're not playing this game anymore. 

Twenty Five Years Later

This weekend marks my 25 th year of wearing hijab.   This year has brought on a lot of challenges in terms of holding tight to what we believe in.   There have been too many stories to mention or to force my mind to conjure up.   I am here to celebrate my loving affection to my hijab. My daughter is 12. She started to wear her hijab when she was 11. She asked to start when she was 6 or 7, but I wanted her to start because she really understood the meaning of wearing this crown of Islam.   I did not want her to start out of imitation of me or anyone else.    As times move toward extremely scary, I would be lying if I said I was not scared for her.   Thankfully, we can have more than one emotion course through us at any given time.   I have a lot of hope and when I can talk to myself enough, belief that we will definitely be ok.   I can’t live my life in fear of being who I was born to be.   I can’t live my life thinking that my family and I will be accepted any more or any le

An America without Muslims?