If a Tree Falls . . . and No One Hears It is There Discrimination?

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound, is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception.

The other day, in one night, I had two experiences with observation and perception that were different than my own.

In the first one I asked a 30 something female police officer if she experienced discrimination from male officers. She said matter-of-factly and with no judgement that no she had not – ever.

In the second scenario I asked a woman, born and raised in South America, if she had experienced discrimination in this country. She said she never had experienced any discrimination.

These two conversations in the same hour got me to thinking. Is discrimination a fact or a perception? Would one person observe discrimination differently than another person?

A few years ago I spent an eight hour shift in a police car with an Akron Police Officer in what is called a Ride-Along.  I observed discrimination when the police officer was dealing with tenant-landlord problems and domestic issues. Is that a fact or a perception?

Hate crimes in the US rose to the highest level in more than a decade last year, according to an FBI report. Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 150% in 2020. Anti-Semitic hate crimes were up in US by 14% in 2019. When is a fact a fact and not a perception?

The Hispanic women claimed she had not experienced any discrimination. She attributed it to the fact that she worked with educated people. Is that a fact or a perception?

This brought back to me thoughts of Germany WW2. In Germany in the 1930’s the general level of education was regarded as high by international standards and there was very little illiteracy and yet Jews and the world were not spared Anti-Semitism.  Before 1933 Germany was seen as a bastion of scholarship and science, and aspects of its school and university systems were widely imitated in many other countries, in particular the heavy emphasis on research in the universities.

I found myself of two thoughts with these women. My first thought was, “great” that they did not have horror stories to share. My second thought that followed very soon after, were they naïve?  Is what they experienced a fact or a perception?

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