how to deal with discrimination
Discrimination is still
an ugly reality in America. Whether it's in employment, housing or the service
industry, Pakistani-Americans and other minorities in the US still have to deal
with this kind of overt prejudice.
You can help other Pakistanis,
especially those who have recently arrived in the US, learn how to stand up
for their rights and fight against discrimination here.
Start off by organizing
a seminar on this topic. Call a local anti-racism organization. Explain what
you want to do and why. Also contact a civil rights lawyer who specializes in
discrmination. Have these experts explain to the local Pakistani-American community
what exactly discrimination is, what are some examples of it, what their rights
are and what steps they can take if they are victims of discrimination. In addition,
provide written information at the seminar about what resources are available
to fight prejudice locally and nationally. Make sure a translator is also present
at the seminar so that those who are not as familiar with English can benefit
from the information as well.
But don't just stop at educating
others about their rights. Become an unofficial advocate for local Paksitani-Americans
who have suffered from discrimination and don't want to fight the battle alone.
Here's what you can do:
1. Get the full story from
the person who claims to be discriminated against. Find out exactly what happened,
when, where and how. For example, what was the name of the cashier who they
felt discriminated against them? What exactly did the landlord say when turning
them down for an apartment? What kinds of questions did the job interviewer
ask that made the interviewee suspect they were acting in a prejudiced manner?
Put all of this information
down on paper in the form of a report. It does not have to be long or full of
technical jargon. The simpler the better.
2. Contact your local anti-racism
organization. Explain the case to them. If possible, fax them a copy of your
report of the incident. See what they suggest to do and follow their advice.
Find out if they can intervene
and contact the alleged perpetrator of the discrimination to get his or her
side of the story. When an organization calls on behalf of the complainant,
it is more likely that the alleged perpetrator will take the complaint seriously.
3. If however, the anti-racism
agency is not effective or does not get involved, contact the person or company
accused of discrimination to get their side of the story.
Try to speak directly to
the person accused of discrmination. Explain who you are and what you are trying
to find out. Don't worry if they brush you off or insult you. Note down the
date you called, who you spoke to and their response.
4. If it's a business who
committed discrimination, find out how to register a complaint with it (they
probably have a department which deals with this). But don't stop there. Contact
your local Better Business Bureau to complain as well. They have an online complaints
process at www.bbb.org and offer mediation and arbitration services to resolve
If the individual accused
is a landlord, contact the government office that deals with housing. Try to
find out if your city has a housing rights committee (many big cities do) and
what they can do about this case of housing discrimination.
5. After registering your
complaint, find out exactly what the waiting time is to get an answer or resolution
to the problem. If after the specified time there is no response from either
the alleged offender or the groups which were intervening to help, follow up
with them. If they give you the runaround, tell them quite clearly that you
intend to deal with this case in a different way on your own.
7. At this point, get the
support of your local Pakistani-American community. Have individuals write letters
and make calls of complaint to the company or offender. If it's a business which
is refusing to acknowledge the discrimination, have everyone boycott it. Encourage
people from other ethnic groups to also boycott the store until it resolves
this case of discrimination.
8. Alert the media. Nobody,
especially a business, wants bad press. But inform the alleged perpetrator of
discrimination before you do this. By threatening to go to the media, the offender
may agree to give in to demands and offer to resolve the issue.
9. If the offender agrees
to work out a settlement, don't be stubborn. Be willing to negotiate and mediate
with the help of arbitrators who represent both sides if necessary.
10. Once the conflict is
resolved, inform everyone who complained about and boycotted the business that
a deal has been reached and that they should thank the company as well as go
back to supporting it. In addition, thank them for their support in speaking
out against discrimination.
If it's a landlord who has
finally negotiated a settlement, thank them as well and try to build ties between
them and the Pakistani-American community.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:47:56 PM
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