Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What have you learned from being a minority/in the minority?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38963points) February 8th, 2010

This past weekend, my partner and I went to one my close friend’s b-day parties and the crowd was overwhelmingly queer and transgeder and pretty urban, progressive thinking. We got to talking about relationships, difficulties of finding exactly what we’re looking for, etc. A long-time friend of mine from college was updating me (she lives in D.C. and doesn’t come here often enough) on all her shenanigans and finding her current partner and all the CraigsList dates that never amounted to anything and the one that did. We discussed becoming self-actualized first and in need of companionship second. We looked around the room and heard people discussing their open relationships with each other. It was just the kind of crowd we felt ‘right’ in.

A lot of discrimination, rejection were also discussed (part and parcel of having minority identities) – yet a wonderful epiphany washed over me: because of the many years we spent being outsiders for our race or sexuality or gender identitiy or our relationships, we have learned how to articulate our desires so much more, we have learned to have quite high standards, we have learned to seek out other means of connecting than what’s available to the majority.

I realized that we were all happier than some of my other friends (still struggling with adulthood, chasing the ‘usual’ trajectory of ring, marriage, child and…? hell, I’ve been there) because of the struggles we faced – we have been (for better or worse but I think for better) forced to reconsider all of society’s norms and reject what didn’t feel right leading us to become our own advocates, leading us to become open to more than the available options. Therefore, even though sexuality and polyamory aren’t inherently linked, queer people are used to hearing about open relationships because they’re used to viewing the world through a ‘fringe of society’ lens and are therefore (well some of them, anyway) less judgmental. Many of us find it works for us because we are not afraid of exploring other ways of interaction (we have experience with that from our pasts).

So I thought to ask you (given that all of us, at some point, have experienced some sort of discrimination or rejection based on our decisions, beliefs, identities, etc.) about the benefits you have gained from having a difficult journey in connection to something others consider ‘abnormal’. What have you learned and what have you gained? It’s time to find the positives in our experiences with the negatives.

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51 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

The only ‘real’ discrimination I encountered was petty names and insults, there were some awkward ‘whos coming to dinner’ moments when I dated white women, but that wasn’t too bad. I’m glad I wasn’t born during the 50s and anytime before that. I can’t imagine living in such an unfair and uncalled for time. I’m glad to see progress now though.

It did give me insight on the different types of people I’ll encounter (dumbasses and smart people) so now I know to not surround myself with dumbasses to be considered a normal person.

I don’t know if this is just about relationships by the way, your description was too long so I didn’t read it lol.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blackberry it wasn’t, Mr. ADD :)

Blackberry's avatar

Lol….yeah sorry.

life_after_2012's avatar

Ive learned to forgive and let live. ive also seen people have a change of heart thats causes a complete paradym shift. So i figured out that sometimes you just gotta let people warm up to you.

mammal's avatar

it is what i have learned that has made me the minority, i haven’t really progressed onto a study of the minority experience per se, i guess it encourages one to be self sufficient.

Trillian's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir very good insight about your own particular “lens of perception”. I think that from that standpoint I have to say that I was a minority in the sense that I was so completely different from everyone around me. I could never see what the other kids thought was funny or whatever. When a girl my age would be telling me a story about an encounter with an adult and being all indignant, I would internally panic because I couldn’t see it from her point of view! I’d be thinking “You idiot, you got in trouble because….” whatever. I never could go along with the ideas and thoughts of my peer group. They always sounded banal and trite to me, even as a child. I was an outsider and eventually gave up trying to fit in, or even wanting to. I became indifferent to the clamor and resentful that I was surrounded by such morons. For a long time I hated and was contemptuous in silence.
After this final attempt to be with someone who is, if not mainstream, then of a different IQ and living standard, I see that not mixing with certain people is not snobbery on my part. That was my biggest paralyzing factor. I was afraid that my contempt or indifference was what motivated me to mix with people who were not on the same plane of existence. That was a mistake. I simply cannot connect with most people and making the attempt is useless because it’s apples and oranges and never the twain shall meet.
Not changing my standards, not accepting other than what I need is not me being a snob, it’s just self preservation. I don’t think that I’m a snob anymore. Thank you. I just worked that out all the way through, I think.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Trillian all that you have experienced, I, too, have experienced – it is so difficult to find people that ‘get’ me, really get on the same wavelength…Fluther has gotten me close to people that I’d never meet but who have the kind of brain (like yours truly) that I’m interested in having near me

Trillian's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s what I like about this site. i think it’s the third time I’ve written that today! Thanks.

mammal's avatar

sometimes i feel a little like This Gentleman

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@mammal will have to watch when at home

mammal's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir a much cherished movie

kevbo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, I really appreciate you sharing this thought. It is a blessing to be counted.

I’m not a minority anything, except perhaps in thought. Being among a “majority”—or probably more accurately being aligned with cultural hegemony—is certainly blissful ignorance, so long as one can get away with remaining ignorant. Your Q resurfaces for me my transition from hegemonic thought and culture during my teen years in New Orleans to having the odd fortune of encountering deconstruction and “minority ideologies” at one of the more conservative colleges in the U.S. Coming to understand cultural imperialism, etc., really turned me on my head and continues to present me with moral dilemmas that I have yet to resolve for myself. Being an apologetic white male of relative privilege (depending on your definition) is not very gratifying for anyone involved. ;-)

I do think that conventional definitions of happiness are the way they are mostly because by and large human ingredients for happiness do not vary that greatly. We need food, clothing, shelter, some luxuries, companionship, community and maybe some values to uphold. Possibly the majority mostly falls for versions of happiness that are dictated from above (e.g. consumerism), but stripped of that, I think the ingredients are “normal.” It’s a shame (or more than a shame) that people get caught up in ingroup/outgroup thinking, although minorities aren’t exactly innocent of that tendency either. They just have less power.

It’s hard not to go back to a Harvey Milk argument with this kind of discussion—that the 900 pound elephant in the room is if everyone (who was gay, for example) just came out then it would cease to be an issue. I guess if it were that easy, it would be done already. Certainly things are easier now, but I suppose there’s always room for progress.

Arisztid's avatar

My life has been a constant self evaluation… that is the main benefit. I am of a dinky ethnic minority (Rromani Gypsy). There are only between 1 million and 2 million of us in America.

It started as a youth of about 8 years old. My father told me that I had two choices: 1) lie about what I am and have it easier (I could pass as a Native American mix, Hispanic, or the nebulous “mediterranean”), 2) tell the truth and face it. I chose option #2. He then told me that I am going to face racism and discrimination. He gave me the tools to not hate back whereas a lot of my people have chips on their shoulders. This answer would be even longer if I went into the tools he gave me. He considered racism and other bigotry to be a disease and warned me to not fall to that dread disease no matter how much I face… and I have. It has been from slurs, to being turned down for jobs, to being attacked, being tailed in stores, to swastikas painted on my garage, to… to… there is no need to go into it unless I am asked.

This (and the slaughter of my people and family in the Holocaust) fueled my study of sociology and abnormal psychology. Here is a blog I wrote about the benefits I have gained from this study and why I started the study. The real benefits I have gotten out of being of the minority populace is in that blog. It is too bloody long to copy and paste.

I had to make that study in order to handle what I faced. I believe that examining, studying, picking apart things until I understand whatever it is is the way to defeat fear and hate.

Being of such a small and generally disliked minority has made me more likely to be tolerant of others.

The stereotypes that people ladle on me makes me more likely to examine and discard stereotypes about others. I do not like it, they are not accurate about me, why would others like it and stereotypes about them be any more accurate than those about me?

There is more, I am sure, but I am uncaffienated and can barely think.

jazzjeppe's avatar

I have like everything against me, I think: I am obese, I am colored, I am flat-footed and I buy my clothes at the cheap places. This makes me stand out in a crowd. When I was a kid I had other kids bullying me for being colored and “racist” kids chased me around the school.

If I have learned something I have learned that I have a choice – either to absorb all the crap that’s been thrown at me or not bother. Most of the time I don’t bother and it helps. I have also learned that the first impression is what makes us judge people. When I am in the city and I notice how people look at me for being fat and whisper behind my back, I know they do it because of what I look like, not because of what I am as a person. They don’t know me so to them it’s fine to judge by my looks and the first impression. I forgive them and the paradox here is that I probably do the same.

But sometimes I don’t have the energy to don’t bother and that’s when it hurts.

I have also learned that the world would be such a better place if we only took time to show some interest in one another and work on feeling empathy and this is perhaps the major lesson: empathy is rare.

Trillian's avatar

@Arisztid You intrigue me. I do not personally know any Rom, (Is that the correct term? Should I say Gypsie?) but was unaware that you were disliked. That is, I was aware of the numbers killed in the Holocaust, but assumed that it was Hitler and his bunch, not the world in general, who had a problem with your people. I’ve seen only a limited attention by Hollywood and what information I have is generally from Fiction and therefor, suspect. I’m going to bookmark and read your blog. I hope in the future you’ll allow me to ask some questions, as I’m sure I’ll have some.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@kevbo IMO, there is no reason to be apologetic if you have realized what privileges you derive from some of your identities and lead your live in a decent manner, trying to help others.
@Arisztid if this is how you’re w/o caffeine, bless you (even though I don’t believe in god)
@jazzjeppe I had to laugh at that first sentence of yours (in support of you, not at you) because it was so damn honest – I am also flat footed (but that only has led me to dance and I’m thankful, :))
@Trillian I was born in Azerbaijan and lived in Russia – in both places gypsies were looked down upon..either that or exploited for their clothing and ‘intrigue’...there is a block here in Brooklyn where ‘everyone knows’ that people who self-identify as a subculture of gypsies live…their kids are ignored by ignorant parents…

Arisztid's avatar

@Trillian Yes ma’am. We can be called Rrom, Rroma, Rromani, Rromany.. with or without the double “r”. Gypsy is an incorrect term that a lot of the younger generation cannot stand because it has become quite the slur recently. I would say that the majority of the older folks, like me, could not care less… as long as you use it politely, that is fine.

I wrote a basic What is a Gypsy because I am asked so often. Please feel free to tiptoe through my blogs. They are on the right side menu broken into named blocks, the most serious at the top, heading down to the fun stuff. Feel free to ask away. :)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir A lot of people “act like a Gypsy” and do things like “dress like a Gypsy” including dark makeup to perpetrate fortune telling scams (I am “dressed like a Gypsy” right now… a Gypsy in a rock t-shirt and jeans). Or they just self identify as Gypsies and act out a lifestyle of recklessness and crime. I want to shove these people under a bus. They do not make my life easy.

jazzjeppe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s okay, I laugh at it too :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Arisztid I have to admit I am not knowledgeable about your community enough to know the authentic from the farce.

Arisztid's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thankyou most kindly for not just stereotyping us, rather admitting lack of knowledge. I also invite you (or anyone else for that matter) to visit my blog and ask me questions. If someone wants to know more, I can then direct them to some of the best resources on the web about us.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Arisztid way ahead of you…it’s great…this is a real asset, your blog.

Cruiser's avatar

I am German with a very German first and last name and went to a public high school that at one point was 97% Jewish student body. I got called a Nazi for 3½ years and didn’t get invited to play at kids homes as it was forbidden to play with non-Jews. The main reason I worked hard to graduate early as I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of that school.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cruiser but what have you gained from the experience besides graduating early?

Cruiser's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I guess it was a glimpse that everyone can be cruel no matter what the race or religious background. My mom was a bigot which was the mindset and climate of growing up in the 60’s in a big city which hard enough to deal with at a young age so perhaps my own experience tempered my own upbringing to be more tolerant in an inherently intolerant world.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cruiser wonderfully put, thank you

wundayatta's avatar

Well, if you’re counting everything—I don’t know what minority I was a member of, but I always felt like I was in an out group. Whether anti-war, or anti-nuke, or anti-big oil, being a liberal/socialist, being a faculty brat, being under-employed, pro-union, and having a mental illness…. Well, truth be told, I never really felt like any of that counted as a minority.

On the other hand, my point of view, I felt (rightly or wrongly), was that of the disadvantaged. Since I spent most of my life working for various causes that were not popular, I learned a lot about organizing. So that, I would say, is what I got out of my minority consciousness, such as it was.

These days, as a new member of a minority, one that is closeted, I find my appetite for being confrontational or even to fight on behalf of my cohort is quite diminished. I don’t want to come out. I don’t want to risk it. A lot of bad stuff happens to people in my position who make it known to bosses or families that they belong to this minority.

Hmmm. What would you say? I’ve learned to hide my true colors even under difficult circumstances?

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I’ve learned that people dislike something or someone that is different from them. It’s just a fact of life. As a young kid it hurt my feelings. Now, it’s just another funny social proclivity.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta that’s good for suvival and self-preservation, that’s for sure

Arisztid's avatar

@Cruiser My wife is German with a very German last name and I have seen the Nazi cracks before and since meeting her. Being a student of history (especially WWII, specializing in the Holocaust) and knowing more about modern Germany than the average idiot, I can take them on with authority… and I win. I know the difference between the SS and Wehrmacht, for example, about the oppression of the average German back in WWII (not towing the party line or hiding a targeted person was the fasttrack to the concentration camps and/or Gestapo attention for you and your family), the underground rebellions, etc. I do not like stupidity on all fronts or bigotry against anyone and the Nazi cracks fit both bills.

Before I met my wife, I set them straight. Now when someone calls a German a Nazi, especially if it is my wife they are calling a Nazi <cracks knuckles>, it is personal.

It is like she stood up for my people before meeting me. Now it is personal.

Cruiser's avatar

@Arisztid I remember we had this conversation at the old haunt. It’s a tough call when many of these kids, and we are talking kids here, had lost relatives at the hands of the Nazi’s. I understood their ignorance and my own inability to convince them otherwise and simply ignored their blind hatred.

Arisztid's avatar

@Cruiser I think we did… my memory is, to say the least, not the best. I can understand why they reacted that way but it still is not right. One of the things my father warned me about was not holding descendants liable for the wrongs of their ancestors or their people’s past. Hold people responsible for their actions only… part of my family was killed in the Holocaust as well but I believe in logic. I caught hell because, not only was I the only Rromani in my school, but, for example, there were some 7–8 non whites in a high school of about 1800. It is easy to look back to a degree… it is not so easy when you are actually in the situation. Luckily my father taught me to fight young and well and develop a bloody thick skin.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

I have at many points in my life felt on the fringes of something or other… too British, not British enough, too foreign, not Brazilian enough, too white, with a name that doesn’t quite fit, on the edges of sanity, on the edges of heterosexuality and homosexuality, not fitting in entirely anywhere…

It is very easy for me to look at all this and feel down, but I guess that it has helped me in a lot of ways. Not feeling like I belong anywhere exactly has somehow conversely helped me to view home differently, to seek that ephemeral homeliness across national boundaries, to travel, to feel that, with a small amount of personal possessions and comfortable bedding, anywhere can be home.

My experiences on the perimeter of Britishness, Brazilianness and otherness have encouraged a distant point of view that likes to observe others, fuelling my interest in psychology, sociology and anthropology (the last of which I liked enough to get a degree in it)...

All of this has encouraged in me a questioning of what we understand as identity, and how loosely-held and flexible it can be. I feel like I have lived many lives in small pieces, and yet all of those pieces are mine somehow.

Trillian's avatar

And maybe we can get past this nationalism that we carry about and recognize that this is yet another artificial barrier that we throw up between ourselves. Become aware of the things with which we’re saturated and inundated on a daily basis. I noticed a National Guard commercial today when I went to a movie, the words and phrases tossed out at the audience, one of which was “selfless service”. this feeling of nationalistic pride is something instilled in all nations on one level or another, but what does it really serve but to separate us?
Are we not better off thinking of ourselves as, I don’t know….citizens of this planet or something more global? It’s by accident that I was born here and you were born there. we might have been siblings otherwise.
I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Trillian you’re going to where I agree with you completely.

Arisztid's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I had a d’oh moment.

You said: “there is a block here in Brooklyn where ‘everyone knows’ that people who self-identify as a subculture of gypsies live…their kids are ignored by ignorant parents”

I took it to mean that the ones calling themselves Gypsies were ignoring their children. Unfortunately a lot of “Gypsy” lifestylers (the Gadje fakers) do that and worse but I realize you were not referring to that lot, rather ignorance towards the people you describe by others.

That is a textbook example of an uncaffeinated Arisztid. I can be dangerous when the blood level in my caffeine stream is too high.

The problem with nationalism is that it can lead to fascism (I might not be using the right word here… please correct me if I am wrong). Pride in your nation, wanting to preserve its ways is one thing. Refusal to tolerate and suppressing other ways is another. It is not required to be intolerant if one has national pride. Unfortunately, this arises all to often. Nazi Germany was textbook, Italy is heading that way fast… right now (including ethic cleansings up to genocide). That is the extreme but take a look at the BNP… that is kind of the beginning of this process.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Arisztid I see, lol…yeah I meant other people

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

I suppose I have a few minority perspectives, but my most recent is being a stay at home dad.
I think that I’ve gained a great perspective on how silly certain gender roles are. Not that this is new information – but it’s such a good way to see it up close. When a stranger in the grocery feels the need to tell me I’m doing something wrong with my child, when I’m confident they wouldn’t if I were a woman, it gives me a greater insight into the reverse that happens all the time in many more situations.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Middle class, straight white male in his early twenties. I don’t think I apply to this question, lol

iphigeneia's avatar

Being Eurasian (half-Chinese, half-Australian) I suppose I count as a minority, but it hasn’t had a huge impact on my life. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s what got me my job at an Asian takeaway restaurant, though we do have several non-Asian staff members.

As I grow older my opinions and choice of dress place me in the minority in different ways. Still, this has had no terribly negative impact on the way people treat me. I guess I’ve learned that people are often just curious about anything that seems different, and if you come across as a sensible and respectful, being interesting actually gives you that extra edge.

Of course, there are still many societies and situations where specific minorities are vilified, but I thankfully have no personal experience of them.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I had to think about this question for a day before responding. On a surface level I’m not a “minority” (middle-class, middle-aged, hetero male of northern European heritage). At a social level I’m very much in a minority.

At an early age I realized that I was very different from other children. I preferred to read, listen to classical music, study or converse with adults. Although considered a wunderkind intellectually, I could not socialize with other children and could only relate to adults because I had memorized the rules of formal, polite behaviour. I learned much later in life (in my late 40s) that this is called Aspergers Syndrome (related to autism). This condition, as I understand it, is due to the basic “hardwiring” of the brain. One is born with it and cannot change it. It’s worst feature, from my standpoint, is an inability to understand nonverbal social cues and little aptitude to learn them, other than the most obvious cues and those by rote memorization. Others have this condition (or disorder) to a much greater extent than I do. I’ve been able to function sucessfully in the world by avoiding social situations whenever possible and falling back on “formal manners” when I must socialize.

The best analogy I can make to describe my condition is that “normal” or ‘Neurotypicals” have a certain “magical ability” to read subtle body language, facial expressions and something to do with the eyes. I am almost totally lacking in that area. To understand what another person is feeling, they must explicitly tell me.Aspergers Syndrome is especially frustrating since I have feelings but cannot express them in most situations and I have no aptitude for “reading” the emotions of others, but once I understand them can sympathize as well as anyone. Aspies are not unfeeling androids.

I have been fortunate to be able to make my way in the worlds of academia and the military; both characterized by formalized behavioural rules to such an extent that I could succeed. I had four degrees in engineering and history before age 21, served 29 years, recently retired as a colonel (Army Corps of Engineers) and am now returning to academia to complete a doctorate in history.

I’ve dealt with discrimination. In school I was a target of bullies (until my father got me martial arts training) and was always treated as a social pariah. I returned the rejection in kind, I excelled in several individual sports but pointedly refused to compete for my school. Such things as parties and (ugh) dating were unthinkable. At one stage, my parents tried to force me to socialize. I was forced to attend parties where I was not wanted nor did I wish to be. I would “escape” after being dropped off and find a quiet place to read a book. I left secondary school at 14 and began college. Unlike the high school environment, an asocial nerd can flourish there. In the Army, I knew all the tricks (my family has a long military tradition). Command behaviour and military ettiquette are things that can be easily memorized. Being remote and aloof are considered signs of a good officer. Almost all human-relations issues can be handled by a good top sergeant; take care of him and life is golden. My style was leadership by example and communication via well-written documents.

The plight of people with “invisible” disabilities is eloquently documented by others such as @wundayatta . In the “real” world I have never been able to have normal relationships, except for my angelic late wife. It takes superhuman characteristics to love an “aspie”. After 15 years of a loving relationship, I’m now relearning the role of solitary eccentric grouch. I can only socially interact via the written word; nonverbal cues don’t exist in cyberspace.

As I’ve always had to conceal my condition to “get by” in the world, I’ve been unable to advocate for others in the heroic way that @Simone_De_Beauvoir and @Arisztid have. Having been in an unconventional relationship and having many contacts with the GLBT community via my wife, I strongly sympathize with people of “unconventional” gender or sexual practices. I proudly wear the rainbow pin, even though it confuses many people. Like @Cruiser , I’ve had the “Nazi” epithet slung at me (some of my grandfathers relatives, shamefully, were Nazis; his elder brother was an SS General). I bear the collective shame of “my people”, even though my grandfather fought against the Nazis in WW2 (US Army intelligence officer, after having served the Kaiser in WW1).

The only “minority” I can’t identify with are the narrow-minded hatemongers who frequently wrap themselves in the flag I fought for and advocate fascism as patriotism. Likwise those who use religion as an excuse for the oppression of women or denying equal rights for those not fitting their sexual tastes.

wundayatta's avatar

At an early age (teens) I considered myself a citizen of the world. National boundaries didn’t make sense to me.

As I have grown older, I have come to see these things are more complex than I saw them then. I understand that there are different kinds of boundaries that people draw for different purposes. I consider any boundary drawn for any reason to be an administrative boundary which defines the jurisdiction of certain governments. As such, they make sense to me, even if they are drawn in inefficient ways. It’s a part of human culture.

Culture is the other way that boundaries make sense to me. Of course, culture is not monolithic. There are many subcultures and cultures that bleed from one to the next. However, I believe that the culture you are raised in is the culture in which or for which you are most relevant.

I.e., if you have a choice to live in your home culture or live in a different culture, your life is shaped significantly by these choices. In your home culture, you can probably be much more effective as an advocate for change. You can do whatever it is you want to do most effectively.

In a different culture, you are always an ambassador; always an outsider, no matter how long you’ve lived there and no matter how well you assume the culture of the place you have moved to. As such, it’s very hard for you to play a political sort of role in your adopted culture. In some cultures, it’s impossible.

Your role will primarily be that of an ambassador. You will represent the values and mechanisms of your home culture. You will constantly be explaining it.

This works whether we are talking about nations or neighborhoods; tribes or companies; sexualities or races; religious groups or Greek societies. Every group has a culture. Some are closer to each other than others. Some you can probably assimilate into, and others not.

I’ll bet we’ve all experienced this. We enter a new organization, and we don’t know what the unspoken rules are. Until we learn them, we are outsiders—ambassadors if the group respects where we came from, and annoying pests if the group thinks the newcomers are leeches on society.

Personally, I believe in respect for all people and all cultures. If your culture has wildly different practices, such as eating grubs, or poking large holes in your ears, I don’t automatically assign some epithetic category to you—like savage, or ignorant. I try to understand your context, because I can’t make sense of you without understanding your native context.

People in majorities, far too often, feel that because they are so powerful in numbers, they do not have to pay attention to minorities. They expect the minorities to conform to majority practices. They often see no value in minority practices. For many members of a majority, it is convenience that matters most. They don’t want to be bothered to change their ideas about how things are done. They believe that the way they do things is the way things should be done.

This belief not only hurts minorities, it hurts majorities. Obviously it hurts minorities because the majority discriminates against them, and minorities then have fewer opportunities and may even suffer violence or death simply because of where they “come” from (come culturally as well as geographically).

However, far more importantly, majorities lose the ideas and skills of the minority when they discriminate against them. In doing so, they are shooting themselves in their collective foot. Majorities see things as a zero-sum game. I.e., the minority’s presence means there is less for the majority. The minority is stealing that which rightfully belongs to the majority.

What majorities (and perhaps most people) don’t realize is that we all benefit from the education and capabilities of our neighbors, no matter who they are. The more educated anyone is, the more they can create higher quality whatever—art or widgets, it doesn’t matter. We all benefit from that. We all benefit from empowering those around us to the maximum we can.

When the majority stomps on people around them, they lose both the minority’s productive capability and their good will. Both hurt the majority. These practices create tensions and mistrust as well as diminishing productive capacity (among other things, there is less love “produced” as a result of discrimination). This, as I have said, but want to emphasize, hurts all of us. Everyone!

Thank you for your kind attention.

I feel like I need to have some rallying cry so we can all march forth in support of peace, love and happiness, or something. But it’s all true in my mind, and I know it could make the world a much better place. Sigh.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna I don’t think that’s true.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: How so? Living in the States, in what way would I be considered a minority? Even trying to consider myself a minority would seem patronizing to me, let alone actual minorities. In our society I’m privileged due to my social and ethnic station; trying to act like I don’t have it easier off because of these things seems arrogant. Please expand on why you don’t think that’s true. I’m curious.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna I wouldn’t know…it’s not only race or sexuality that makes us ‘abnormal’ to others…you tell me

liminal's avatar

It may sound funny but, by being seen by different majorities as a minority, I have been able to step away from an insipid “us vs them” world view. Somehow, fully embracing myself moves me forward into a full understanding of my unity with all humanity and my responsibility to it.

I feel that a culture’s minorities often contain those who have come to peace with Jung’s notion of having a shadow side and in so doing we confront the majority with their shadow and, in some ways, represent the majorities shadow. As a culture learns to face their shadows they find out that shadow is not enemy, but in fact a guide on the pathway to wholeness and authenticity.

The least confrontational example I can think of is my relationship with our local library. When I go in there with my two black children (who have two white mommies) looking for books, I am struck with how void the place is of our image. Really great books, with delightful characters my children readily identify with, have white faced cover work. Stories of romance contain hetero-centric themes. I can turn and walk out thinking “who needs them, they have a problem” or I can get involved because “we” have a problem (after all my taxes and always accruing library fines say I do). So, I hold up a metaphoric mirror to our local library and we get about the business of making sure everyone’s reflection is accounted for. The process is slow, arduous, but made much easier because courageous minorities, from generations past until this present moment, have held up their metaphoric mirrors to majorities and made them see that part of their world is the minority.

partyparty's avatar

I am a minority because I am left handed.

Steve_A's avatar

@partyparty Those freakin leftys… :D

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@partyparty and what positive things have you learned from this?

partyparty's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That my day-to-day activities are much more difficult as everything is geared for right handed people.

For example, writing cheques is quite difficult… getting in to the corner to write out the stub.

I have just attempted to fold a duvet cover with my s/o and he wanted to fold it a completely different way to me.

BUT to my advantage, when I play tennis / badminton, I can completely fool my opponent… they just don’t know where the ball / shuttlecock is going to land LOL

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