First things first let's forget about all the various social and cultural labels. Let's instead think about social stigma and social exclusion in terms which might be relevant to your experience of life.
You might have experienced for yourself one of the following situations in life:
- You were not invited to an event or a party to which all your other friends were invited to.
- You were the last person picked for a side or a team.
- A relative or friend forgot your birthday.
- You were singled out for punishment, additional chores, duties or work by someone in authority.
- You were punished by your parents for something you couldn't understand as a child.
- You were mocked and ridiculed by other people for some aspect of your appearance, your background, your beliefs or your behaviour.
- You were unfairly dismissed from a job, evicted from a home, denied access to a service or an amenity.
If you can recall such an experience from your past, think about the feelings and emotions you felt during the experience. Think about the feelings of anger, outrage, shame, guilt, despair, depression, sadness, disappointment and so on. If you can recall such an experience of your past, maybe even as far back as your childhood, then maybe you can think about how that experience over the years has influenced the way you think, the way you interact with other people, the beliefs you clung to, and the choices you have made since those experiences.
Let's not think just about the obvious labels
It would be very easy to trot out a fact such as the fact that the vast majority of people in the black community experience racism in some form before they reach the age of eight. It would be just as easy to spit out a list of cultural stereotypes of people who we assume experience stigma and discrimination on a daily basis, such as the homeless, people with disabilities, people struggling with mental health issues, people identifying as LGBT and so on. But this would be to fall into the same traps as those who spew their bigoted and prejudiced beliefs and make other people's experience of life a misery.
This would also deny the experience of stigma and exclusion of the millions of people out there who look 'normal' but who struggle the same as those who are more obviously or visibly stigmatized, and who are still struggling to deal with words said to them and experiences from their childhoods or teens 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. There are a lot of people out there who feel inadequate, who feel that there's something bad or unacceptable about them, who are convinced that they cannot be loved.
There are a lot of people who seem to use their live experiences and social relationships to find answers to the same recurring questions over and over and over again. Such questions may include:
- Am I acceptable to you?
- Am I good enough for you?
- Have I achieved enough for you?
- Do you like me?
- Are you going to hurt me?
- Are you going to abandon me or let me down?
In this section of our website we've presented the various aspects of social stigma and social exclusion to give you a deeper insight and understanding as to what social stigma and social exclusion are both really all about. We've broken this down into some fairly bite sized 'chunks' which should give you not just a deeper insight into the issues but also, just as importantly, why we do what we do and what this community was set up for.
Simply click on the links in the right hand menu.