A Short Socioligists Perspective on Social Injustices
Short RageAn Autobiographical Look at Heightism in America is a poignant memoir and a perceptive critique of our society today. Its also a surprising and shocking account of prejudice and how it molds and damages people.
The author, Deborah Burris-Kitchen, grew up in a typical midwestern American home. Shes blonde. Shes the daughter of a minister. She lived in the suburbs of Indianapolis, and she went to junior high and high school. She dated worked at McDonalds, graduated, and worked in a bank and a bar. She eventually went on to higher education and did well. She earned advanced degrees in sociology and entered an academic career. On the personal side, she survived some failed relationships and then found her ideal mate, married, and adopted a child.
All of this may sound trouble-free, but life has been hard work for Deborah Burris-Kitchen. Shes whats politely referred to as vertically challenged, and what is more often called short. Standing four feet nine inches tall, Deborah Burris-Kitchen is the shortest person at any gathering. She has been repeatedly, insistently reminded of this unpleasantness. Schoolmates teased her and physically abused her. Potential boyfriends ignored her. Professionals patronized her. Shes been picked up, patted, kidded, and overlooked. People dont take her seriously, whether shes changing her spark plugs or announcing her intention to get an advanced degree.
There is a shortappropriately shortchapter in Short Rage about the few advantages of being short, such as cheaper clothes and being able to sleep comfortably in small places. These hardly compare with the disadvantages of being unable to reach cupboards or sitting uncomfortably with ones feet not reaching the floor, not to mention being treated like a child. But there has been one very pronounced, dubious positive effect of being short. This condition has given Deborah Burris-Kitchen an acute awareness of the discrimination that permeates American society.
Deborah Burris-Kitchen describes herself as an activist. She sees that this nation was forged in violence, exploitation, racism, and the ugly side of capitalism. She knows about the way our nation and our society have treated the racial minorities, the women, the disabled, and the poor. She stands up for the victims: the native Americans, the Latinos, the blacks. She has great sympathy for those who dont fit the American mold. Her understanding may come from good sense and a good heart, but she also acknowledges that her sympathy for the victims comes from personal experience.
Short Rage minces no words, and Deborah Burris-Kitchen is right to stand on a soap boxnot so she can appear taller, but so more people will hear what she has to say.
Deborah Burris-Kithcen, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Tennessee State University in Nashville. She is the author of Female Gang Participation (Edwin Mellen Press, 1997). In 1996-1997 she was awarded an Irvine Grant to study racism in the criminal justice system.