The Problem of Othering

            I never heard of the concept of “othering” before reading this article, and honestly, it can’t be described more clearly than that. Othering does in fact exist in the entire world and in our everyday lives, even if we don’t recognize it and even if we are not aware of it. The article discusses in-depth how othering is prominent and how it’s integrated in all life aspects including politics, war, and even in the simplest form of everyday social interaction. I decided to reflect on the article and how I relate to it rather than explaining and analyzing its details.  

            Firstly, I was shocked when I read the several examples of how politicians use othering to gain votes and to gain the liking of people of in general. I was definitely aware that this exists, especially the Trump related ideologies that pushes people to hate and discrimination, but never to that extent, and never had I thought that existed from such old times. I believe that we have become so accustomed to such events that we don’t really see its effects anymore. However, if we take a deeper look, it’s completely unacceptable and dehumanizing to categorize people in ways that promote hate and fear in an unnecessary way. How did we reach a point that it’s become okay to point fingers at groups, make generalizations and accusations at others like that? The fact that no one is pointing this out and that no one is protesting against it shows how dysfunctional our world is!

            To me, the most problematic thing is how othering leads to unfair treatment of certain groups, and, simultaneously, how some groups get power and benefits they don’t deserve. The fact that one race is more deserving than the other, or is more superior or is more dominant that the other is the world’s greatest setback! Who are we to judge? Who are we to generalize? Who are we to put labels on people we might not even have met? Who gave us such rights to behave in such a manner? Once othering happens, certain groups are expected to behave in certain ways, even if they don’t want to. The sole fact that there are expectations of certain behaviors promotes the entire world to push this group to behave in this way, even its own members. For instance, African-Americans are expected to be violent, are expected to be criminals, are expected to be low-educated etc. When an African-American child is brought up in such an environment hearing this from the entire world, the self-fulfilling prophecy starts to take place and the child does in fact end up confining to these norms. This is the ultimate definition of unfairness!

Another related point to this topic of unfairness and generalization, like we discussed in class before, is how people attribute and justify certain behaviors of certain groups. For instance, Muslims are viewed as terrorists. Only one shooting occurs and suddenly all Muslims are terrorists and they should be feared worldwide. This is because Muslims are not viewed as a deserving and superior group. However, when White Americans, the most supreme form of human beings, commit shootings, they’re viewed as mentally ill and are in need of help. They make people fear and hate us, yet they make people bad for them and make them sympathize with the criminal, even though both individuals could commit the exact same crime. I agree with the author that the concept of othering has been so embedded in our everyday world to the extent that we might not even notice it. When we completed the exercise in class where we were asked to portray certain discriminations evident in our society, my teammates and I were personally shocked. We make so many assumptions and jokes on people of different races and backgrounds, which is not fair. The problem is not only that we do that, but it’s the fact that we’re not even aware of doing so. It’s like it’s become a norm to categorize people and talk about them, make fun of them and not even notice anymore. This shows that there definitely is a problem in the way we think and behave, and apparently it’s evident in the entire world, not just here. We all think we’re perfect and we’re open-minded when it comes to such topics, but deep down we might not be. The limerick below truly does depict a lot of the societies now a days.

  Since I’m a series addict, I’ll link this to Brooklyn nine nine, a comedy series. In one episode we see a Terry get arrested and mistreated by a white officer only because he’s African American, which for some reason make him looks suspicious. This link shows a small part of the episode with some commentary about the incident.

This shows how the problem exists and how it’s evident and how it can have a great negative impact on an individual.

            In the beginning of the article when I was reading the first part, I felt at unease with the amount of unfairness that it made me feel that the entire world should be one with no differences at all. However, when I put more thought into it and when I read further down the article, I changed my mind. Different groups should exist. Different ideologies should exist. Different norms should exist. This is what makes us unique and diverse. However what shouldn’t exist is the different treatment for different groups. We are all human, no one is more deserving than the other. The creation of groups is so important for the feeling of belonging. It’s also important since groups usually share the same way of thought; they have the same mentality. This makes it easier for its members to click together and understand each other better, which facilitates their every day lives. Better yet, we definitely should belong to different groups since it makes up an important of a person’s identity. Identity should be unique and different from one person to another. This will never be attainable if we’re all actually the same. For instance, I could never imagine not being Egyptian; it just makes up so much of my life and who I am. It’s because of our culture that I’m deeply connected with my family. It’s also why I’m able to be the very social and extroverted person I am since our society promotes that. For instance, I travelled to the States a couple of times before, and never in my entire life was I at such discomfort. This is because they are such an individualistic country and it’s very visible in their everyday life interactions. I’m always used to going to supermarkets, malls, restaurants or even walking in the street and greeting strangers with big smiles and have small conversations with them. This is just not there by all means! Grouping people make up who we are, but we should never be judged or discriminated against because we belong to different groups.

            At the end of the article, the author stated the suggested different solutions or routes with their definitions, implications and their problems. These solutions included assimilation, secessionism, segregation, and finally belonging. The author believes that belonging is the ideal solution for othering. However, I slightly disagree. I do agree that people should be entitled to the feeling of belonging in different groups and they should be welcomed if they don’t fit in. However, that’s not the only solution. I believe that acceptance, judgment-free communities, and equality should be the more widespread thought. People should accept others the way are, and no person should believe that s/he, or the group they belong in, is more deserving and righteous than the other. Furthermore, for the decrease of judgment, people should never assume, jump to conclusions or generalize by any means!! Also, I believe that respect is key. We are all different and we’re all entitled to behave, think and act differently, and no one should have a problem with that. Therefore, respecting one another and accepting our differences is also a great solution to get rid of this global issue.   

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