I remember the first time I heard that women were a minority. I was 22.
I grew up in South Carolina. My mother was a successful business woman. As kids, we were taught that it was important to treat everyone equally and with love. I moved to Arizona and finished high school there, then went to college in Pittsburgh. For 22 years, no one ever mentioned to me that women were a minority.
I took my senior of college year “off” and went home to Arizona where I took core classes at Pima Community College. My sociology teacher was a woman, a lawyer, who had graduated from Oxford. She mentioned minorities and casually listed women as part of the group. “Eeeek… How embarrassing for her,” I thought. “She doesn’t know there are more women than men…” I raised my hand. I would let her know. (Ha!) “There are more women than men in the US.” “Yes, I know,” she responded. “So they aren’t a minority,” I said. “Yes they are…” And then my female teacher explained to me that in my country, I am considered a minority, even though that isn’t based on math… It’s not based on the actual percentages of people, which is what I thought defined the word “minority.”
That was very jarring.
I think it’s misleading to call us a minority when we aren’t in the minority. It lets words familiarize us with an untrue concept. It’s said as though it is true. And I think some people may start to believe that we are actually in the minority.
A more truthful usage of the word would be “Women are treated like minorities.” If we said this, it would remind us each time it’s said that it’s about the treatment and not the math.
And that might lead us to think more about how we treat people in the minority differently than those in the majority.
And that could focus our attention on equalizing that treatment.
Since we are all created equally, it seems strange that these distinctions are made at all.
Also, if our heritage was broken down honestly, where “white” wasn’t an ethnicity, but instead, the actual countries of origin were listed, the ratio of minorities would be much more equal.
On my mom’s side, I’m Mexican, Native American- Tigua, Apache, and Yaqui, most likely Sephardic which is Spanish-Jewish… And on my dad’s side, I’m English, Scots-Irish, German, and Swedish. But on government forms, I can often only choose one place of origin. But if I’m allowed to check more than one box, they are only for my mom’s side. For my dad’s side, the only option is always “white.”
If we had honest boxes, where we included the beautiful, real pieces of our heritage, most likely the percentages of majority and minority would be much more even. And again, honest.
I wish those boxes said things like Hungarian, Italian, Irish… When it comes to food or drinking, we don’t think those places have the same “white” food. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a time where “white” people have delicious homemade lasagna and play croquet. If I mistake a person from New Zealand as Australian, they are rightfully upset. These are all different places with unique, lush histories. And most of the time, we celebrate these differences. But the boxes that end up defining the word “minority” (except in regards to women) lump all these people together to form a false “majority.”
I find that people already have enough ways to have low self esteem. And that lack of autonomy and self love manifests in all sorts of addictions, anxieties and sadness. We don’t need to add more subconscious judgement to the fire. It hurts the people who may end up with a falsely inflated sense of self, and it hurts the people who may end up with a falsely deflated sense of self. Extremes either way take us away from walking the earth knowing we belong just as our true selves. I see that we’re changing and growing little by little and I’m very grateful for that. But I still wanted to share my feelings.
The article below is from 2015, I just read it today. Its respect for the power of words is what reminded me of my experience at 22 and inspired me to share. Thanks for listening. To those of you around me for those first 22 years, thank you for leading me into a world of equality. I find that my thoughts affect my feeling of freedom, which affects my actions, and I’m really grateful for the loving thoughts you all shared.
A bit about the article: Apparently some places outside of the US, like Europe, Africa and Hong Kong, regularly use the word “expats.” In America, I rarely hear people use the word expats. These countries use the word when referring to “white” foreigners working in their country, but they don’t use it to describe people of other races who are also working in their country. There are different words for those workers. The Guardian quotes The Wall Street Journal saying, “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades… It’s a double standard woven into official policy.” Click for full article: