Loved ones remembered 12-year-old Joel Morales outside the East Harlem home where he committed suicide this week, lamenting not having stepped in sooner to prevent the bullying some say led to his death.
Longtime friend Diamond Zaro, 11, who visited a growing makeshift memorial outside the Jefferson Houses on Friday, said he was constantly trying to protect his pal from being teased for being short.
“I remember they took his shoes and ran away, I had to get them,” said Diamond, who attended P.S. 102 with Joel. “I also used to walk him to the Boys Club when I could because some of the kids used to bully him.”
Zaro said he regrets keeping these incidents to himself.
“He used to ask me not to tell his mom because he did not want to get in trouble because he knew his mom wouldn’t let him go outside,” he said. “He would rather go outside and be bullied than stay indoors.”
TSC: It’s interesting that this news account describes having ones shoes stolen and being pummeled with rocks and pipes as “being teased for being short”. That seems to be a pretty mild description for what happened to Joel. The word “teased” seems misplaced here.
Suppose that Joel had been bullied in the same way, except that he was gay instead of short. Does anyone think that a newspaper or any other media outlet would say “..he was constantly trying to protect his pal from being teased for being gay”?
I am starting to really hate my life. I am 5’0” barefoot maybe 5’1” with my trainers and it is absolutely terrible. No one that doesn’t get to know me gives me any respect. I seem to have to work 8x as hard as anyone else to even be treated normally. I get called everything under the sun. Hobbit, oompa loompa etc. For this reason, I can’t stand going out in public. I have been to the club a couple of times and let me just say that me and a bunch of drunk *******s almost always ends up with me sitting there with an odd smile while everyone cracks jokes about me.
I recently started lifting weights and running to try and get more fit looking. But I have little to no motivation to do it because… no matter what I do I will still be short. Chicks more often than not don’t give me the time of day because of my height. If they got to know me I know they would like me. I have an amazing personality. Anyone who gets to know me has told me the same thing. Of course I can’t wear all of this on a badge lol. Idk I am just extremely depressed because it’s sort of like nothing else in my life is bad, except for this and this is something that I can’t change no matter what I do. Why does this exist where the guy has to be taller than the girl? Anyways I guess I just needed to vent a little.
TSC: And so the thread begins. Basically the conversation divides into three groups. The group that says height is no big deal and its all about “personality and confidence”. The group that says that his experience is a product of heightism (social stigma based on height) and that he has to find an individual way to overcome it. And the group that says that short men are inferior and no one cares about their problems.
(to be clear, I don’t put myself in any of these groups. I know that heightism is real, but I don’t think it can be overcome through individual behavior - only through group action and directly challenging the prejudice.)
But here is one part of one person’s statement that illustrates the value judgment people make in regards to heightism which allows them to perpetuate it in good conscious.
I meant NO ONE CARES ABOUT BEING SHALLOW OR HEIGHTISM. AS IN THEY DON’T CARE THAT THEY ARE HEIGHTISTS.
Not that there are no heightists. There are plenty and they are pretty damn proud of it. Who is really going to take them to task on it? It’s not like they’re being racist or homophobic. Bloody hell.
TSC: She is making a value judgment that height SHOULD convey social privilege or stigma. And she does it by illustrating the status quo. Not realizing that racism and homophobia are learned concepts which were developed by thinking people as a way to frame a social problem and give it a name so that it could be combated. At one point in the not-so-distant past, her grandmother would be saying the same thing about “homophobia” that she is now saying about “heightism”. We just need to fight to make it so.