Defining The “Isms”

Keara Meeley

Feminism, racism, and ableism all end in the same suffix: -ism. The suffix stands for a distinctive practice, philosophy, political ideal or an artistic movement. Many people at Cosby may experience these words being used incorrectly, here’s how to use them properly.

When asked to define one of the “-isms,” racism, Parker Reineck, a freshman at Cosby said, ¨Racism is when you exclude someone due to their race or culture.¨ According to Merriam-Webster, racism is defined as poor treatment or violence against a person or group of people due to their race. This includes social actions, practices, beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked superior or inferior to each other. Although there are laws that make discrimination illegal, racism is still a common practice. Studies recently showed that police are more likely to pull over African-Americans or Latinos than whites; and that after being arrested, African-Americans were 33% more likely than whites to be detained while facing a felony trial in New York.

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Reports have shown that about 50% of Americans under 18 are minorities. (Photo courtesy of Greater Manchester Police)

Thomas Milroy, a freshman at Cosby, defined feminism as, “someone thinking that because you’re a guy you’re better than women.”Feminism is the belief that both men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. The goal of feminism is to establish equality politically, economically, culturally, and socially for women.  A current issue of inequality that women face today is the wage gap: getting paid less than men for doing the same job. White women are earning only 78 cents for every dollar a white man makes, African-American women earning just 64 cents to every dollar made by white men, and Hispanic women making a mere 56 cents per dollar.

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Worldwide, just 24% of senior management roles are held by women. (Photo courtesy of the US National Archives)

¨Ableism is not understanding what people with disabilities go through and making it seem less significant than it is¨, defines Emily Thexton, a Cosby student. Ableism is prejudice towards disabled people, and beliefs or practices that assign people with developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities as inferior. According to the Health Research Funding Organization there are 54 million Americans with some form of disability. Those with disabilities may face many kinds of barriers on a daily basis; both physical and mental. A common problem in older buildings or certain areas is that they lack wheelchair access. That restricts access to the 2.2 million people in the U.S that depend on a wheelchair and the 6.5 million citizens that use a cane, walker, or crutches.

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About 1 in 4 people will become disabled before they retire. (Photo courtesy of Theen Moy)

Knowing what words mean is a crucial step to avoid misunderstands and being educated in current topics helps increase awareness of what’s going on in today’s society. By having an increased awareness Cosby can cut down on prejudice in all areas. Together, Cosby can create a safe place for all students.

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