Can we please get rid of the term “minority”?
Minor league baseball is made up of leagues who compete at a lower level than the Majors.
Minor keys in music have been described by prolific composers as “immutable” or fixed and less justifiable than major keys. (1)
So are people in a minority population at a lower, fixed level that is less justifiable as important?
I believe by continuing to use the term “minority”, our society is establishing the lower status of a people who are not White.
This might seem like a far-reaching argument but I believe words have great power and affect on how we view ourselves and how we view others.
UNPACKING THE ARGUMENT
The Wikipedia definition for “minority group” pulls from American sociologist Louis Worth to define it as: "a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination".
Let’s break this down...
1) Singled out - when have you ever felt good about being singled out? Maybe by winning an award? But typically, “singled out” refers to a time in which you’re doing something wrong and it has a negative connotation
2) Differential & unequal treatment - how can we expect more equal treatment if we define a group of Other as being treated differently in the first place?
3) Regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination - aka define themselves as victims
Basically the term “minority” in America places non-white people as victims who should expect to be treated poorly because they are not part of the larger majority. It’s an attitude of feeling “less than” without taking into regard skill level, accomplishments, productivity, or cultural or economical contributions.
For those who are not in the minority, this definition gives them the feeling and power of superiority and that subconsciously and/or consciously places them as more valuable than the minority group.
We have obvious examples of people who identify with the Majority demonstrating their power but there are less obvious ways this sense of power sneaks its way into everyday life that doesn’t seem as harmful, yet I don’t think it’s right.
Example: As someone growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, a white girl in high school asked why I got “dark purple” in the summer. It didn’t come from a place of innocent curiosity. It was a question that was posed to make me feel ousted and bad about myself.
My issue beyond the actual question is that she felt comfortable asking me the question in the first place. I would have never asked WHY she tans? She felt she was in a place that was high enough to question the color of my skin.
I’m not placing blame on her for asking, but it’s the attitude she was raised to believe, as many white Americans are, that her place in society is of the majority, a group that is more valuable than me.
HOW WE CAN CHANGE
I’m challenging we take the step of removing the idea that Other is less than and eliminating the use of the term minority. Obviously this is a lofty goal however as long as I’m a citizen, why not challenge society to be better?
Maybe we should not categorize so heavily in the first place.
Maybe we should acknowledge each other’s differences as lateral, not hierarchical.
Maybe “Minority is the new Majority” is super silly since there are wayyy more Asian, black and brown people on the planet than white people.
Maybe we can get to know the origin of people and ask how they want to be identified.
I know this is uncomfortable to think about and minority is an easy term we’re used to using but I am not less than. People of color are not less than. Sure, we’re different than white people but that’s cool. Diversity is necessary for growth and adaptation and I think it’s beautiful.
Terms we can use besides “minority”
People of color
(Alphabetical order based on origin and skin color)
Asian Americans: Korean-American, Japanese-American, Indian-American, etc