That’s the question that came in to Yo, Is This Ageist? a few days ago, and I’ve been banging my head against it ever since. Not that the question hadn’t come to mind long before, in particular the notion of of discriminating against a group you aspire to join, but the answer is far more complicated.
Thanks to Brian Drolet, Rachel Drolet, Dread Scott, and Bob Stein for their invaluable input.
Here’s the question as asked, and my answer.
I have a question. Is ageism the equivalent of racism? I feel that it is but I wanted to get your feedback on it?
both are entrenched systems of discrimination, but their histories make them different. people have been held in slavery because of the color of their skin, never because of their age. the brutal scale and intensity of racism stands alone, and its legacy is ongoing.
racism and ageism share an economic basis. disenfranchised people are paid less, pitted against each other, and vilified as parasites. American society criminalizes young blacks because of their skin. decades later, everyone finds out what it’s like to be marginalized because of their age.
if you’re poor, racism and ageism eventually converge. as writer Walter Mosely put it, “When you become old, you become black.”