America is a great country, with opportunities galore. However, it is also a country that periodically falls into the slough of discrimination. Here are two stories, one from the 1960's and one from the 1970's.
1 -- A Jewish boy from New York meets with the admissions director of a prestigious New England liberal arts college in 1967. The interview lasts about a minute, with the director saying, “The chance that someone like YOU would be admitted to a school like THIS is like a snowball in Hell.”
2 -- A Jewish summa cum laude college graduate from Natick, MA, applying for admission to a fine New England medical school in 1976 is told, "If we let all of you academic super stars from New York in here, you'll tear each other apart."
The first story is about Dr. Jerome Groopman, who has since become one of the most respected doctors in America for his clinical care, research, and publications. The second story is about Dr. Mark Zeidel, our chief of medicine, another national leader in the US, who is known in his own right for superb research, clinical care, and teaching.
What's my point? Well, the Beth Israel was established in 1916 because of discrimination against Jewish doctors. I bet it is hard for people to imagine that discrimination against Jews in college and medical school admission still persisted in the 1960's and 1970's. (In case you don't get the second story, "New York" is often the code word for Jewish.)
I don't mean to claim some special status for the Jews. Other people have faced their own types of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age, weight, and so on. Many acts of discrimination are more insidious, hateful, and dangerous than these two examples. Unlike these two guys, some folks never recover from it.
If you are willing, I would like you to write back and comment on an instance of discrimination in your own academic or professional life. I don't see a purpose here in naming the institution or company, but please give the year, the type of institution, and the nature of the insult -- and how it affected your plans or life thereafter.