Monday, April 4, 2011

Discrimination Affects Everyone

This guest blog was written by Jennifer R. Resetar. This is Jennifer's third guest post on the WheelchairPride Blog. In this post Jennifer discusses how,

Discrimination Affects Everyone


Before I begin my blog, I would like to say that Mid Florida Tech is in no way at fault for the incident of discrimination described below. In fact, they had a sign posted by the instigator of the incident removed after I reported the incident.

When you think of discrimination, do you think of the 1940s-1960s when African Americans and Caucasians were segregated? Discrimination did not end with segregation ending. It is still a part of our lives even now in the 21st century, the age of iPADs, iPhones, and other modern pieces of our culture. It does not just extend to race or disability or sexual orientation. I would like to share an incident of discrimination that happened to me recently.

On St. Patrick’s Day; March 17, 2011, I was at school, exploring a building I did not know yet before class when I discovered a sign posted by AT&T announcing a job offer. The sign stated that no experience was required for a costumer service position and two other positions listed. There was a phone number belonging to a lady named Brittany. I decided to call the number and was answered by a lady named Mindy. I told her I had found the sign posted in Mid Florida Tech.

“Would you like to set something up with one of our hiring managers?” Mindy asked me.
“Yes, but first, I need to know exactly where you are. I use public transportation,” I replied. This is where it all started.
“Oh, I’m sorry. We cannot hire you unless you have your own vehicle. You must have reliable transportation,” Mindy said.
This incident did not involve my disability in any way, it involved my means of transportation.

My Ride

The transportation that I use is the LYNX buses of Orlando, Florida. Many able bodied people including people in business suits, young and expectant mothers and children use these buses as their means of transportation. The buses are also wheelchair accessible with lifts built into the steps leading onto the bus. Some newer models display things in the form of a ticker such as when a bus is approaching a bus stop that transfers to other buses for the hearing impaired and it calls out these stops as well and it also calls out when someone has pulled for a stop by saying “Stop requested”.

As I have mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have Cerebral palsy and due to this condition, I can not drive and I will never own my own vehicle. Therefore, AT&T’s policy is a form of discrimination because by excluding people who use public transportation many people with disabilities like myself are excluded from working there.

Based on this information, AT&T could have discriminated against a number of students at Mid Florida Tech because there are a large number that use the same transportation that I use. I dealt with this incident by reporting it to Mid Florida Tech’s Dean of Students and returned the next day to find the sign removed before I could get a picture of it. The twist to this entire incident is that AT&T also happens to be my phone provider. Mindy did not know this. I did attempt to contact AT&T about this incident that afternoon but, unfortunately, I have not heard back from them.

As this incident shows, discrimination can happen to anyone, anywhere. It is a sad epidemic, much like that of bullying for children. In fact, I believe that the two are very similar. The only difference is, that children don’t really know any better until they’re old enough to understand the differences that people have, whereas adults should already know that everyone is different, or may use a different form of transportation to reach their destinations. What would they say for instance, if someone told them that they live close enough to where they can ride a bicycle to work? Will AT&T still say no? What if someone walks to work? We may never know the answers to these two questions, but now we know that if you live in Orlando and use LYNX to get where you need to go, AT&T will not want you on their staff. I am not trying to bash them in any way, but I wish the people that made this decision would open their eyes to the other forms of transportation out there other than cars and motorcycles. Mindy may not have had a say in that decision and must’ve just been stuck with the job of being the bearer of bad news; I may never know.

If you have been discriminated against for any reason, please, do not hesitate to tell someone. It is wrong and if the person who discriminated against you can see that what they did is wrong, it may be one less person in the world who will discriminate against another human being.If we can stop this epidemic, that will be one less thing we have to worry about in this world full of tough times and war.

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I would like to thank Jennifer for her blog post. Read more about the subject of disability discrimination.