Discrimination Towards Polish Immigrants in Baltimore? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Discrimination Towards Polish Immigrants in Baltimore?

Discrimination is a problem for both minority groups and the societies they live in and can be a key obstacle to integration. It reflects direct experiences of/toward migrants. Most of the time, it creates a vicious circle in which locals are complaining about social cohesion and this negative attitude makes migrants more defensive and fanatic about their cultures.

In 2013, an estimated 15,828 Polish-Americans resided in Baltimore city, 2.5% of the population. Unfortunately, Polish migrants in Baltimore and US face discrimination for many years in every country they go even though they are the third generation. In this article, the examples of common discriminative behaviors will be examined as well as some helpful tips to deal with them.

What exactly is discrimination?

Group discrimination is essentially an attitude that can be linked to personal experience or perceived as being group-related. it also reflects the ‘threat in the air’ that comes from an awareness of others’ experience.

Such discrimination is therefore likely to vary not only with personal characteristics and degree of exposure to the host country (social contact, media consumption, language skills, etc.) but also critically with the differences in context.

Think of the night when you meet a girl who stopped flirting with you as soon as she knows you are Polish, or a very inappropriate comment about your history by a stranger, the news on TV blaming migrants for unemployment, “harmless” jokes about your accent, stereotypes of people about who you are, from your education to your life expectation before even knowing you a bit. Discrimination is hidden in every tiny moment of life and sometimes wearing a smiley mask but it doesn’t change how it makes you feel: An outsider.

How does discrimination change us?

It is a basic urge to reject something if you are forced to since childhood. Learning, adaption, and harmony always come with a good attitude and acceptance. If you don’t feel welcomed, it’s more likely to get defensive against exclusion and go back to your roots to take shelter in the society where you are respected.

Discrimination among migrants can influence their sense of belonging and well-being. So, it would be less likely to adapt to the host country. Immigrants lack group support and feel unfairly treated, which can put a strain on social cohesion. In the end, nobody wants to be a part of something they feel like they are not wanted.

What does it mean exactly? Think, why do we live close to each other? All migrants from different backgrounds are building their neighborhoods, shopping from their own grocery stores and considering their cognates for marriage. For example, most Poles living abroad are using Polish dating websites like Single Polish to find love instead of other popular dating apps. The reason is clear: They are not only looking for nice singles to date but also they want to be accepted and understood by their partners as one of their own.

Why it’s happening?

Why would we expect migrants to perceive discrimination against their group? Basically, because individuals strive to achieve and preserve a positive social identity.

They do so by comparing their in-group with out-groups, and selectively perceiving positively valued characteristics to be typical of the in-group and negatively valued characteristics to be typical of out-groups.

Stereotypes are usually defined as beliefs about a group that are used to proxy ’missing information. For example, we all heard about smart Chinese, hardworking Japanese or lazy Greeks. In general, stereotypes produce a readiness to perceive behaviors or characteristics that fit the stereotype.

Recent studies have emphasized the importance of symbolic boundaries to distinguish ‘us’ and ‘them’. According to Wimmer, boundary-making is processual and not static, a result of struggles between actors, and influenced by the institutional order, the distribution of power and political networks. Linguistic or cultural identity becomes the prime mechanism of intergroup exclusion. This allows salient boundaries to develop between White European immigrants and European host populations, not just racial distinctions between Black or Asian immigrants from non-Western countries.

How does the media affect?

TV, internet and print media like magazines and newspapers play an important role in spreading dominant ideas among people. It means media have the power to lead society by boosting ideas in negative and positive ways. Both the beliefs and interactions of the majority group will be affected by media messages, but also the perceptions of the minority groups of discrimination and prejudice in society.

To illustrate, you can think of the news on TV with the same theme but different actors. If a crime occurs, let’s say in a case of burglary, many newspapers would stress the origin of the burglar only if she or he is a migrant. In that example, if the criminal is from Poland but living (or even was born) in the UK, they would more likely to say “a Polish burglar” which would create and support the stereotypes about the connection between Poles and crime. However, you wouldn’t see the same emphasis on the race if the person is British. Therefore, media producers must watch their language and attitude better to bring peace to society and reduce hate.

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