A time I can remember witnessing someone being the target of oppression was when a close friend of mine recounted to me a story of when he dated a white girl (he is black) and made arrangements to purchase a plane ticket and visit her family for Easter. Only later did he find out that his girlfriend’s grandmother was uncomfortable with him spending time with the family and gave them an ultimatum: either she would be attending Easter festivities with the family or he would; the two could not jointly attend.
Prejudice in this situation clearly diminished equity in that the grandmother and ultimately family chose to uninvite my friend solely based on his difference in race. There was nothing he could have said or done differently to effect change in this decision.
For me, I can remember sobbing after hearing my friend describe this experience and see how clearly it affected him. I remember truly realizing in that moment that racism still existed and did so on the basis of ignorance and hate. While up until that time, I was unaware that racism still occurred, I realized that ignorance and hatred are characteristics that will always exist, therefore racism will be difficult to ever truly overcome.
In order for this situation to be turned into an opportunity of greater equity, the family and grandmother’s attitude regarding prejudice and racism would have to change. Hatred would have to turn into compassion and love. Prejudice would have to turn into acceptance and empathy. Ignorance would have to turn into knowledge and understanding.