The Segment in Stigma...
In order for us to understand the concept behind wanting certain things in life, we must first grasp the complexities of knowing who we are, where we stand, and the importance of attaining these wants. Culture, history, and experiences shape our perception of life; therefore, we must educate ourselves on how the world sees us, how you view yourself, our community, families, and individual abilities.
As an African-American, Sapphic young educated woman, I am often depicted by others under many demeaning interpretations of who I might be:
(1) - some believe I am “ghetto” because of my first name and automatically make me out to be a “hood” chick (for those of you who don’t understand what “hood” mean – it’s typically a minority female who lacks poise, gracefulness, and manners – this isn’t to state that “hood” chicks aren’t educated or well-mannered, it’s just the stigma that’s placed with the title),
(2) – Some believe that because of my “alternative” lifestyle, I must truly dislike men, a guy must have hurt me or I don’t want children. This is totally not the case; I love men! Men are great. In fact, some of my best friends are guys. Yes, I’ve dated them in my teenage years but always knew it wasn’t for me. My orientation has nothing to do with my want or need for children. As we all know, there are many ways to create a family, with today’s modern technology. I hope we’re a bit past that.
In a generalist view on stigma, not just from an African-American standpoint, being stigmatized can destroy one’s dignity, character, and sense of self if certain values aren’t exercised and understood. Stigma is a branding mark, a badge of shame, and some sort of disapproval toward a group of people, place, or thing. There are also two main types of stigmas: Discredited, which can be seen and is easily perceived. Discreditable is the stigma that cannot be seen such as stigmas against mental illnesses and sexual orientation. Both carry judgment and forces people to feel “different”.
Segment, as per Google, is defined as “each of the parts into which something is or may be divided”. Many people fit into the definition and category, if there is any. For example, let’s use the Trayvon Martin case. He was targeted as being a “disruption”, loitering and looking for trouble because of what he was wearing and the fact he was a young, African-American walking through a gated community.
He fit a particular stereotype (stigma) of some of our youth. The facts of this case stood that he actually lived in the complex and was on his way home. Because of the stigma placed on young African-American males, he was violently approached, attacked and killed by another minority.
Trayvon was just a segment of that stigma. His attire had nothing to do with his personality or intentions, nor the image George Zimmerman portrayed him to be. This young man was unarmed and didn’t pose as a threat to anyone. This takes us to the typical young, Black male who loiters on corners, sells drugs, and does nothing with his time. This stereotype/stigma is spread throughout our nation as one being the same as all – when this theory is completely absurd.
Stigma/Segment both has divided views but a very fine line in similarity. The same issues apply to people of Middle Eastern descent. They’re interrogated, disrespected and extensively searched in airports because of the actions of others who represent their country. Everyone isn’t the same and shouldn’t be treated as such. Subconsciously, slavery has everything to do with how our world is…and continues to be. I won’t dive into that issue (I don’t have enough energy for it. Maybe in my first book…LOL) however, I’d like everyone to step back, keep quiet and learn to observe their environment. Observe your mental space for what it is and its potential.
Change starts with us and you have the power to be viewed differently.
Live your best life!
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