Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Speak Up & Be Heard

"Ageism is as odious
      as racism and sexism."
                                             Claude Pepper

Two years ago while on a LaZoom Ghost Tour, the tour guide referred to the “little old woman” on the bus – namely, me. The humiliation, shame and hurt I felt by this comment overpowered my ability to speak up and identify what was blatant ageism.

Three friends and I, all over sixty, attended an open-mike comedy night. As we sat in front row seats, joke after joke about old age were directed at the four of us. When the grey-haired comedian took the stage, he provided damage control with humor honoring age.  But the damage had been done.

Both of the above situations reflect blatant ageism. If four African Americans or four women were sitting in those front row seats – and racist or sexist jokes were made, my belief is that someone in that audience would yell “boo” (very likely me) and get up and leave...

As I reflect on the two experiences above, what might I have done differently: First of all to have contacted LaZoom and the guide to discuss the disrespect and prejudice expressed by what was said as a comedic part of his ghost story. And to do the same with the stand-up comics. In other words, to connect and talk through and educate about ageism and the harm it perpetrates.

When talking person-to-person at a heartfelt level, it can't help but open dialog and increase awareness of yet another 'ism'. An 'ism' that impacts each and everyone of us if we are blessed to live a long life...

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