Whereas prejudice reflects a feeling or attitude of bias against someone, and expressed in words, discrimination involves an act which manifests that prejudice. Such an act will cause hurt.
In my early days in White Australia, I experienced discrimination in a slighting way; eg. by being the last to be served in a shop. Sadly, about a decade ago, in my coastal district, a teenage Aboriginal boy told me “We are still the last to be served in shops!”
Near the end of my career, I experienced overt discrimination for a few years for being ‘not one of us’. About 30 years before that, I was denied employment in my professional capacities, initially because of my skin colour, and then for my foreign origin; both were confirmed by reliable others.
It is, however, normal for human beings to prefer someone of their kind or tribe. For instance, in Malaysia some time ago, a Ceylonese newly-appointed university dean was stood down because a Malay had claimed “If a Malay can do the job, he should have it.” Merit gave way to ethnicity. That did not surprise me. That was why I had turned down an invitation to join Malaysia’s diplomatic service.
In my community contribution as an interviewer on promotion appeal committees, I have heard, ever so often, damaging assessments of candidates clearly reflecting a personal antipathy. Such harmful discrimination does cause hurt and damage.
Yet, such individual hurt and damage is just part of the human condition; but not necessarily to be tolerated. What of discrimination in a wider context? For instance, when the East India Company in India was replaced by the British Government’s civil servants, it appears that a hunting season was opened for imported Christian missionaries. Was the discrimination in favour of mixed-blood Anglo-Indians in employment in government services then extended to Indians saved to Christ by missionaries of a holier-than-thou mentality?
Sardonically, I have wondered, from time to time, about the reactions of the souls from superior religions when meeting the souls from all the other religions (and atheism) in the Celestial Abode of the Heavenly Father. Are all souls any wiser than the persons they left behind?
What of the terrible discrimination inflicted by European colonial powers on their coloured subject-peoples all over the globe, after destroying their economies (say, India and Egypt), and their cultures, while denigrating their faiths? The Australian Aborigine, the beneficiary of ‘discovery’ and ‘settlement’ patiently awaits official recognition and, in the lower ranks of society, equitable opportunities.
Is racial legislation of any relevance in offsetting past discrimination?