Discrimination is the act of making unfair distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they are perceived to belong. To discriminate against someone means to treat that person differently, or less favorably on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation, as well as other categories. Discrimination can occur while you are at school, at work, at home, or in a public place, such as a mall or a restaurant. You can be discriminated against by school friends, teachers, coaches, co-workers, managers, or business owners.
Learn how to support someone or get help with discrimination.
Dealing with Discrimination
Finding healthy ways to deal with discrimination is important, for your physical health and your mental well-being.
Focus on your strengths
Focusing on your core values, beliefs and perceived strengths can motivate you to succeed, and may even protect you from the negative effects of bias. Overcoming hardship can also make you more resilient and better able to face future challenges.
Family and friends can remind you of your worth and help you reframe those faulty beliefs that discrimination may perpetuate. They can also help counteract the toll daily discrimination can take. In a world that regularly invalidates your experiences and feelings, members of your support network can reassure you that you’re not imagining those experiences of discrimination. It can also be helpful to ask friends and family how they handle such events.
Support can come from people outside of your family or circle of friends too! Consider getting involved with like-minded groups and organizations, whether locally or online. It can help to know there are other people who have had similar experiences to yours. And connecting with those people might help you figure out how to address situations and respond to experiences of discrimination in ways you haven’t thought of.
Help yourself think clearly
Being discriminated against can bring up a lot of strong emotions such as anger, sadness and embarrassment. These experiences often trigger physiological responses, including an increase your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Try to check in with your body before reacting. Slow your breathing or use other relaxation exercises to calm your body’s stress response. Then you’ll be able to think more clearly about how you want to respond.
When you’ve experienced discrimination, it can be really hard to just shake it off. You might want to speak out or complain, but you’re not sure how to go about it, or are afraid of the backlash. So instead, you end up ruminating, or over-thinking about what you should have done. Ruminating or dwelling on those negative thoughts and experiences can actually cause more stress and anxiety.
It might be helpful to talk over the ways you can cope with similar experiences in the future. Try to come up with a plan for how you might respond or what you could do differently next time. Once you’ve determined how to respond, try to leave the incident behind you as you go on with your day.
Seek professional help
- Discrimination is difficult to deal with on your own, and is often associated with symptoms of depression. A mental health professional can help you manage symptoms of stress and depression, and can help you find healthy ways to cope. **Information source: American Psychological Association.**
- If you are a student and you are experiencing discrimination or are concerned that your friend is being discriminated against, our NormanAid Wellness Counselors can provide further education, resources and counseling. For immediate support, visit our Crisis Resources.
- Antioch University International
- Straight Up Treatment
- Vista Del Mar
- The Maple Center
- Jewish Family Service of Santa
- Southern California Counseling Center
- TEEN LINE
- PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
- Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Centers Family Services Program (Support for families and friends of gays and lesbians.)
- GSA Network
- Vista Del Mar
- The Maple Center
- Not In Our Town (NIOT)
- Not In Our School (NIOS)
- How To Be An Antiracist
- The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations
- The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
News Stories of Discrimination
- Let Students Be Themselves
- Fourteen-Year-Old Michigan Student Awesomely Stands Up for Suspended, Gay-Defending Teacher
- Abercrombie & Fitch Sued For Religious Discrimination
- How To Be An Ally The Fight Against Racial Injustice And For Better Mental Health For All
- 103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- How Latinx People Can Fight Anti-Black Racism in Our Own Culture
- Guide To Allyship
- TED Talks: Yoruba Richen - What the gay rights movement learned from the civil rights movement.
- TED Talks: Anne-Marie Slaughter - Can we all "have it all"?
Movies and Shows
- The Nod podcast - stories of Black life
- The Anti-Racism Daily Podcast
- Yo, Is This Racist?
- Seeing White - Scene On Radio
- You, Me And Them: Experiencing Discrimination In America