Discriminatory Papercuts

Small actions of discrimination that encompass our daily lives.

Countless external stimuli bombard our brains every minute of the day. To prevent overload, information must be processed for sense, logic, and reason. The sorting of external stimuli such as objects, people, and ideas creates space in our mental resources for other daily tasks. This aids us in increasing efficiency and awareness levels when navigating through society.

CATEGORIZATION, STEREOTYPES & PREJUDICE

To categorize information comes instinctively to us. For the purposes of learning and adapting, we try and connect new information to prior knowledge and experiences. Thus, daily categorization is a subconscious habit.

By making generalizations about people through categorization, we form stereotypes. In terms of race, religion, or gender, stereotypes particularly turn invalid and problematic. Fixed and oversimplified ideas can provide a sense of predictability and order. However, stereotyping specifically implies that an individual possesses a set of characteristics assumed to be shared by all members of a distinct group.

With stereotypes shaping our values and beliefs about people, prejudice can often become unavoidable. Commonly associated with stereotypes, prejudice refers to our social judgments and preconceived attitudes towards a group or individual.

What may begin with prejudice can eventually evolve into discrimination. Discrimination is an advanced form of generalization: the ability to perceive and respond to differences and similarities. Nonetheless, depending on how these qualities are discerned, it often leads to biased treatment.

THE PROBLEM WITH DISCRIMINATION

Discrimination can originate from even the most minor, insignificant observations we make from day-to-day life. Consequently, unintended discrimi- nation can occur naturally. From sexism and racism, to homophobia and religious discrimination, daily comments stem- ming from assumption can be exhaust- ing, enraging, and damaging.

Sharing firsthand discriminatory experiences within a school magazine where students, teachers, parents, and staff alike can be difficult. Therefore, we appreciate and respect every given response for this article. The sad truth is that over 90% of JIS high school students who responded to our survey reported at least one experience of discrimination, while 15% reported discrimination on a weekly basis.

Sexism proved to be the most common act of discrimination, both within and outside of JIS. This matter was mainly experienced by female students across the JIS high school.

According to an anonymous student, this discrimination based on gender stereotyping can even surface from the amount of food we eat. She claimed, “I was trying to buy some meat at a local market and the butcher said I was buying too much for a girl.” Though these words were said teasingly, her feelings at that moment were of irritation and frustration. Regardless, she smiled and said it was to share with her family. If given a choice, this student wanted to ask the butcher what the “appropriate” amount a girl should be eating.

When discussing sexism, the matter of sports was a very common topic for female students. As said by sophomore Abigail Siregar, “Most of the discrimination that I experience is based on my gender. As a girl, people expect you to be physically weaker than guys.” An ardent practitioner of sports that are traditionally male, boxer and weightlifter Abigail continued, “So whenever I tell people of the things I do boxing or weightlifting, they are always amazed and surprised.” Despite being unintentional, these responses can be inconsiderate, and at their worst, offensive.

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”

— Maya Angelou

Much like Abigail, sophomore Seoyeon Kim underwent a similar experience at her previous school. “I wanted to play soccer and basketball,” Seoyeon stated. The teacher, who was unaware, prepared “moderate exercises” for the girls to do separately from the boys.

Understanding that this discriminatory action was unintentional, Seoyeon disregarded the matter quickly. She decided to believe “the teacher might have thought girls wouldn’t like vigorous exercises.“ Nonetheless, what was meant to be an act of consideration resulted in the opposite.

Danaya Chittratanawat’s experience with sexism stemmed from male classmates at her previous school when learning football. “The girls were taught and assessed the same way as the boys. A lot of us turned out to be quite skilled, but the boys kept making fun of us.” According to Danaya, one of the boys went so far as to capabilities lack logical reasoning and correspondence. Attempting to bridge these unassociated concepts together conveys an obstinate mindset based on gender prejudice.

When asked to describe her thoughts concerning these ludicrous remarks, Chittranawat responded with the word “confusion.” She further went on to describe, “I have two brothers at home who play football with me after school. They don’t care whether I’m a girl or not.” Needless to say, what followed after was emotions of vexation, indignation, and ultimately, exasperation.

While the examples shown above indicate misogyny directed towards females, sexism towards males should not be ignored. Among the acts of discrimination present, “Be a man” was a widely addressed term by male students across the JIS high school. This stereotypical and discriminatory phrase occurs both intentionally and unintentionally. However, both have set standards for defining the characteristics of men with regard to tradi- tional ideas of masculinity.

While views and preconceptions of this phrase have changed over the recent years, the most commonly known and used is its initial phrase. “Be a man” is often akin to “Suck it up” or “Don’t be so emotional.” Regard- less, the subtext is clear: “Don’t be a woman.”

Kyra Kolim

DISCUSSING RACIAL MATTERS

In modern day culture, racial discrimination is still considered a taboo topic despite its prevalence. Accordingly, only 30% of interviewees addressed racism. By avoding these mentions, society becomes prone to ignor- ing racial discrimination.

Racial discrimination is a redundant issue among the Chinese-Indonesian community. As reported by
an anonymous student, “There was a time some local Indonesians started calling me and my family Cina, a derogatory name they use to call Chindos or Chinese Indonesians.” Due to his pride in Chinese-Indonesian culture, heritage, and ancestry, this student decides not to dwell on the insult. He wasn’t intent on letting these “racists” have the upper hand by allowing himself to feel disheartened.

Nonetheless, he also admits to having “felt like an outsider” at that particular moment. The discriminatory word “Cina” was explicitly directed with an intention to hurt and demean. Through its racist overtones, consideration for ethnic diversity is cast aside.

Sophomore Adrienne Prabowo admitted tolerating an experience much like the previous one. Upon walking to the Indomaret across her house, three boys on a motorcycle screamed “unintelligible“ slurs at her. All the while, they formed the racist “slanted-eye gesture.” Flabbergasted and unable to speak, she stood frozen on the spot as the boys drove out of sight.

Throughout her childhood, Adrienne endured many acts of microaggression. Before taking pictures, adults would jokingly tell her to “open [her] eyes,” to the point that she began to feel shame for her eye shape. Reflect- ing back on these encounters, Prabowo felt “nauseated.”

BANDAGE ON A PAPERCUT

At an intercultural school, diverse cultures are expected to be widely accepted, respected, and acknowl- edged. According to many students, the likelihood of dis- crimination at JIS is somewhat lower compared to other schools. When asked to describe how often she experi- ences small discriminatory incidents at JIS, sophomore Emily Teo stated, “I don’t experience much discrimination at JIS.”

However, because categorization, prejudice, and some forms of discrimination are subconscious behaviors, they are challenging to prevent. To become concious of these actions, we must learn to identify our tendency to categorize. In time, this will lead to habits that allow for self-correction.

Questioning the origins of these stereotypes is essential afterward. They may be stemming from past personal experiences, depiction in the media, a cultural stigma, or all of the above.

Finally, we must allow the people we meet to chal- lenge discrimination. Evading the small daily acts of discrimination that happen within our lives allows for its continuation and iniquity. The inevitable consequences of discrimiation are bound to be detrimental. To prevent it to a minimun at JIS, this notion must be considered as a whole community. For how long until the responsiblity of the perpetrator falls on the bystander that is society?