Ever been marginalized by another person or group? I have—more than once, and I’m far more fortunate than most. Marginalized. It seems like a harmless word…people off-screen, to the side.
Merriam-Webster defines “marginalize” as follows: to put or keep (someone) in a powerless or unimportant position within a society or group.
Wikipedia defines the term interchangeably with social exclusion. “Social exclusion is the process in which individuals or entire communities of people are systematically blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration within that particular group (e.g., housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation, and due process).”
Ask someone who’s excluded and they’ll tell you the reality is far worse than any definition. Those who marginalize assign labels to the groups they seek to exclude, often ones that are derogatory or blatantly cruel in an effort to make the exclusion us vs. them. If the labels are removed they expose the ignorance…
• Those possessing beliefs differing from those franchised.
• Those who love someone others find unacceptable.
• Those possessing different skin color, or even shade than a franchised group.
• Those who’s personal identity differs from those franchised.
• Those of a sex perceived as inferior.
• Those who suffer an illness or disease not readily discernible.
My point in this little exercise is to encourage everyone to shove aside the hate, to strip away the labels, and examine the true nature of the marginalization. I could easily be included in more than one disenfranchised group, yet I’ve caught myself thinking about doing the same to others. Sadly, many do. It isn’t uncommon for one alienated group to do the same to another to bolster themselves. I’ve noticed this over the years and in a recent article the Rev. Jeff Hood laments the practice.
In “The Wayward Movement of the Movement” he states, “Where are the innovators who are seeking to organize and create in ways that bring about revolution, liberation and reconciliation at the same time? We can do better than empty slogans and events that are simply a repurposing of the past that allows oppression and marginalization to continue.”
We need to understand and learn that as a single race, a human race, we’re stronger. Last I checked, no surviving dinosaurs were here now because they consumed other dinosaurs. Again I’m at compassion’s doorstep, knocking and wondering if anyone is home.
Those excluded know a circle’s margin is a rail line to nowhere, but those at its center must understand there’s no line at all. As Rev. Hood said, “Do we not belong to each other? If we can’t answer this question in the affirmative, we have already lost.”