Prejudice in the 2020’s

By Daniel Nardini

Recently, my wife had a problem with a low level manager in the company where she works at. I will not go into more detail about what happened, but the general gist of the issue was that this manager accused my wife of an impropriety. Because of this, my wife was suspended pending an investigation. I suspected racial profiling because my wife is Korean, and fought on behalf of my wife against this judgement. Finally, my wife got a phone call from the district manager for the company who apologized for the incident and had her reinstated with full back pay. Nevertheless, the person who accused my wife of doing something wrong remains at their job. This was not the first time my wife had encountered such hostility towards her for being Korean at the workplace.

Just a week ago, I talked to my friends Art and Steve. Art is a practicing Jew, and Steve comes from a Jewish background although he himself is not a practicing Jew. Neither know each other, but they both live in New York City. Even though they do not know each other, they told me much the same story; they cannot identify themselves as Jews or being pro-Israel. This is unbelievable—in the most Jewish part of America, they are afraid of wearing a kippa (a traditional cap worn on the head), wearing a Star of David, or carrying around the Torah. If they did this they might be subject to verbal abuse and maybe even physical attack. Art told me he has to be careful about going to his local synagogue with his family as well.

All of this points to one thing; prejudice against East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Mongolians, Tibetans and even Vietnamese although they are Southeast Asians) and Jews and hostility towards them. At the beginning of the decade, I had to be careful about my wife being subjected to verbal abuse or worse because people might mistake her during the Covid pandemic as Chinese. I urged my wife to wear a South Korean-American flag pin to identify herself as Korean if this would help. While Art and Steve noticed acts of anti-semitism in the news media, it never before affected their daily lives. With the Israel-Hamas War, they have been adversely affected. Art is not necessarily pro-Israel, but Steve very much is. The one thing they have in common is that they are both either Jewish or come from a Jewish background.

The point I make is that neither my wife nor my friends should be afraid of being who they are in the United States. Their race, ethnic and religious group should have no meaning whatsoever in determining what they do, how they live their lives, what job they hold, and how they raise their families. But now they have to be afraid because of what they are. This seems to be the changing face of prejudice in America. It does not seem to matter whether they are immigrants or native-born, they still feel the cold cruel hand of bigotry. After all these centuries, too many Americans have not learned the lesson how their ancestors who came to these shores were themselves the victims of persecution, prejudice and violence against them for being what they were. As I have learned from bitter experience, the only way we can stop this bigotry is to push back; fight for our rights under the U.S. Constitution. Even in the 21st Century, we all have to remain vigilant against this dark force still lurking within our society.

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