Archive for November 19th, 2020

Service of Pigeonholing: It Divides Us

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Photo: sciencenews.org

Here’s one reason the country is so divided. We reiterate immaterial distinctions about each other which amplifies differences and serves no other purpose. When a doctor approaches a sick patient the only relevant information is her/his experience and intelligence. Where the physician’s mother was born or whether the person is religious doesn’t matter.

Here are some recent headlines to further prove my point:

  • “Miami Marlins hire Kim Ng as general manager. She’s the first woman and first Asian American GM in MLB history” — cnn.com
  • “Joe Biden to become the second Catholic president ever, following JFK” — cbsnews.com 
  • “Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President Ms. Harris, the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever before her.–The New York Times.

Kim Ng Photo: yahoonews.com

Each of the people in the headlines above have distinguished careers and all are Americans. Why does it matter that they are men or women? What does their religion or heritage have to do with their accomplishments? Why not headline their achievements and performance?

We’re better than we once were. At the end of an interview with a woman from a Louisiana historical society decades ago she asked me “how did someone with a name like yours get the job you have?” I was managing editor of Art & Antiques and my last name, that of my then husband, was Polish. At about the same time he called the president of a corporation in Texas and the secretary didn’t put him on hold when she yelled to her boss, “There’s a Pollack on the phone for you.” The president may have winced when he learned that the caller was from Fortune.

I maintain that we’ll go a long way in closing the gaps that divide us if, when we talk or write about a person, we stop underscoring differences of no consequence and focus on relevant facts. What do you think? What do we have to lose?

Photo: nature.com

 

 

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