I’m writing this a day after the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin. The trial brought the conversation of racism to many breakfast tables. I recently watched a movie on the life of singer-songwriter Helen Ready, whose song, I Am Woman, became the women’s movement’s unofficial anthem in the early 70s. The movie highlighted sexism. I then enjoyed marathon watching a Netflix series called “Grace and Frankie” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. With humor, themes of ageism and heterosexism were addressed.
Isms are understood by thinking of the equation: prejudice + power = isms. It seems if one is lucky enough to be a light-colored young man who prefers women and has no disabilities, he likely won’t be a universal victim of prejudice + power.
Since I am in the senior-citizen group of the population, my thoughts have been on agism.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 53 million of the 325 million people in the U.S. are over 65. In a 2020 study published in CeoWorld magazine, the United States failed to make the top 20 best countries for senior citizens.
In my little experience, I think healthcare gets it. As we age, quality medical care is there for us. The industry did its homework and saw us coming. Seniors and our ailments provide financial success to most hospitals and specialty clinics.
The aging population seems to lack publication priority. I asked a Barnes and Noble clerk if he could direct me to the section on aging. The young man looked at me as if I had asked for a banana split with cherries. He stammered a bit and headed to the back wall, turned abruptly, and guided me to the sidewall. Eight to ten books on aging were in a small section called Natural Healing between Alternative Medicine and Alzheimer’s and Caregiving. Titles seemed geared toward looking younger, sexy, and fit. I’m not critical of the concept, but those are the least of this aging woman’s challenges.
One positive aspect of ageism is people hold the door for me and treat me kindly. I wonder what they see and think. I assume I must look frail, old, and at risk. On the other side, when shopping, I feel unseen and ignored. In many situations, I feel unheard and not valued.
My lifetime experiences with isms make me sensitive to all groups viewed and treated as less-than. Prejudice is hurtful, and when combined with power, you have an ism.
I want all people to have fair odds of mental health, and it is difficult if judged as inferior because of things out of one’s control: skin color (racism), sex (sexism), age (ageism), disabilities (ableism), sexual orientation (heterosexism), etc. Prejudice + power is all around us, and it is not healthy for individuals or systems. If someone feels big after squashing another person or group, they are not mentally well. They lack
balance and empathy, feel superior and live in fear of losing their entitlement.
Isms are alive and harmful. It is time to give up the prejudice + power. I’m in.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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