“Get over it! You’re too sensitive!”

Inspired by our conversations in Visual Rhetoric, I want to leverage the blog to explore what is perhaps a widely shared view: That individuals and groups who feel slighted or offended should just get over it, that they are being too sensitive, that we shouldn’t be so concerned with what we might call ‘political correctness.’ This theme is from our examination of the Popeye’s re-do ad featuring the four college students.

Before I ask for your reactions, a few thoughts:

First, as I shared in class, a general principle holds that if a group sees that there is the possibility that they are being insulted by another, it will. This is how we are hard-wired. We are always on guard. We like to think the best of FILL IN THE BLANK HERE (Northerners, white people, the French, whomever), but we don’t.

I will default to my worst fear. For an African American viewing the Popeye’s Annie, he or she will fear you are perpetuating Aunt Jemima. Consider if Annie were white. The black stereotype and historical antecedent disappears. The default fear is gone. (We still might think about the portrayal of gender.)

So if we think there is any chance of intent to slight us, we will feel slighted. We live in a culture of indignation. Some are hacked off because we got it wrong. Some are hacked off because we got it right. This is the key: We should care about the first; we don’t necessarily have to lose sleep about the second.

Second, is it up to us to determine when another people group should or should not feel insulted, regardless of intent? When we don’t share that group’s history, culture or even language, how can we judge? We do not relinquish our own “right” to decide when we’ve been slighted, I wonder how it is that we are so quick to decide for others.

Third, our goals in the course are ethical decision-making, ethical image-making, ethical communication. And ethics requires a process. We need diverse people in the room. We also need a process for systematic dialogue and conversation, so we can be deliberate, thoughtful and persuasive. So we can say what we mean, not something else. To discuss how a group or groups might be unintentionally offended, alienated or even victimized by our messages costs very little before the message goes out. As we’ve seen in our in-class examples, it can become quite costly after.

Perhaps a good guide for us is the Keith Woods quotation on the board Wednesday: ‘Appreciate my uniqueness, but treat me the same.’ This gets to the universal sameness of difference and diversity. Don’t we all share this sentiment?

So how do we better appreciate difference? We all are guilty to some degree of staying in our comfort zone, of failing to notice much less engage with the ‘Other,’ with those outside our group, whoever that might mean. I have a trio of exercises that will help us better appreciate difference and what it means to be on the outside looking in, exercises that get increasingly difficult. Don’t worry; all of them should be fun, if you buy into the point or ‘takeaway’ here.

So, to get us started, the first exercise:

Write a response to this post that tells the rest of us of a time when you were the ‘Other,’ a time when you didn’t fit in, when you were excluded. Say something about what that felt like, and about what you wish the dominant or ‘in’ group knew or considered or valued. This exercise is required.

Deadline: midnight Sunday, Feb. 21

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28 Responses to “Get over it! You’re too sensitive!”

  1. Taylor McKenzie says:

    When I moved to Georgia from Boston, I was definitely more of an other than one who fit in, some by my own doing,some purely because I was raised in a truly different culture even though it is the same country. I think at that point in my life, I wanted people to understand that even though I wanted to fit in, I found it really difficult to let go of who I was before the move.

  2. Alice says:

    I also moved to Georgia, very recently from a different place. And in that move I transferred schools. Since where I live now when I’m at home- in Alpharetta, there is a mix of people from all over, you don’t necessarily feel too much like “the other.” However, as a transfer, at a new school, and most especially by being on a sports team with completely new people, I most definitely felt like the other. The hardest part about feeling this way is the lack of understanding between groups. Without any knowledge of each other, it is impossible to relate and if you don’t make any attempt to assimilate to the new group or to inform the in group of who you are, then any hope for unity is lost. In being the other you definitely have a desire to be part of the new group, but you also desperately want them to respect where you are from, what you have experienced and what your assets are. The only issue with this is that you usually have to supress your past in order to appear open and appealing to the new group of people. Being “the other” will never give you the upper hand.

  3. Astin Adams says:

    When I was in eighth grade I wanted to join my high schools junior squad for cheerleading. Shortly after I made the team I realized I was one of only two white girls on a squad of 16. I was not raised to think less of other people or races, and I don’t, but the other girls on the team assumed that I did. The other girl and I tried very hard to fit in with the rest of the squad but they refused to accept us because we were white. As I said earlier I wasn’t raised in an environment where race was an issue so it was very troublesome to me when I was excluded for no real reason. The other girls on the squad knew nothing about me and didn’t want to. The worst part about this treatment was feeling so excluded. I agree with Alice that there is no hope for unity when one group is trying so hard to point out an “other” and exclude people. As Keith Woods said, “Appreciate my uniqueness, but treat me the same,” it is important to understand and appreciate the uniqueness every person brings to the table but it is also very important to treat everyone equally and stop creating an “other” within groups.

  4. Erin Grigsby says:

    My situation when I was the ‘other’ is very similar to Astin’s. I was a cheerleader in high school and for two years I was also one of two white girls on a squad of about 20. When we cheered, there were no differences in our behavior towards one another since we always acted like a team. But when there were breaks during a game or practice, it was obvious at times that the other white girl and I were the ‘other.’ I do not judge people or act differently around them because of their race, and I think the other girls knew that. I did become good friends with a few of them, and all of the girls always acted friendly towards each other. There were just the few times when the ‘in’ group would come together and talk about something they were all familiar with, and I would feel like an outsider because I was different and could not relate to what they were discussing. However, I do not think they were intentionally excluding me. It’s just that sometimes we subconsciously exclude people and make them the ‘other’ even though we really appreciate their uniqueness.

  5. For Taylor, I’m wondering how it felt to have to be misunderstood, to have to acclimate to the new culture rather than having the culture adapt or acclimate to you. When you were the Other, it was you who had to learn, to adapt, to change. The culture around you was indifferent to your Other-ness. How did this feel?

    I just read Alice’s post, and she gets at this — at not being able to relate to one another but, as the newbie, having to be the one to do all the heavy lifting in this area. Alice also points out how the mainstream misses out when it ignores or excludes the Other, how that mainstream could actually benefit from learning from the Other.

    This is a great quote from Alice: “you usually have to suppress your past in order to appear open and appealing to the new group of people.” Wow. Not only does your past not count in this new mainstream, but it has to be suppressed.

    Astin, too, has a powerful story of being the victim of wrong assumptions, of being oppressed by a dominant majority unwilling to include her as Other. For both Astin and Erin, I wonder why this race divide was so pronounced? It can’t be merely about skin color, or can it? What else was at work here, culturally, socio-economically (class)? I’m also really interested in how you reacted or responded to this exclusion, and how it changed you.

  6. Hillary says:

    When I was in high school I had a group of friends that I had known, and had spent a great deal of time with, over the previous four years. They had all been friends for much longer than I had known them, but I still felt very close to all of them. During our senior year, they suddenly reverted back to their exclusive group that they preferred to call the “fab 5.” I was no longer invited to anything and felt very left out. Although I tried to make amends with them, things never went back to normal. I wish they would have taken a step back and seen things from my perspective to understand how I felt.

  7. Jordan says:

    One summer in high school, several people from my school went to a leadership conference for a few days. There were a lot of schools that came from the Atlanta area, so many people from different schools already knew each other and had no trouble starting up conversations. I felt at a slight disadvantage since many people already knew other people who were there, so they didn’t really take the time to introduce themselves, and they stayed in their own little groups excluding a lot of us who didn’t really know that many people. I wish they knew how hard it was for those of us who didn’t already know anyone at the conference to introduce ourselves to groups of people who were all very comfortable with one another.

  8. Not to diminish the stories of interpersonal isolation, but I’m even more interested in situations in which you found yourself the ‘Other’ because of race, class, culture or even nationality.

    In other words, something marked you as ‘Other’ to the larger group, not merely that you were left out of a group.

  9. Katie Underdown says:

    The time I felt left out goes all the way back to Pre-K (this is not the only time I’ve felt left out, it is just one experience that stands out). For Pre-K my parents enrolled me in St. Luke’s, which is a Christian based school in Columbus, Ga. I was put on the wait list for the school, because they were a school that was in high demand at the time, and by the time I was accepted into St. Luke’s, everyone in my class had been there for a while and had already made their own friends. I was quiet and shy, much like I am now, and so everyone in the class ignored me. It made me very nervous and I can still remember how upset I was over being ignored and even picked on occasionally because I was so quiet. I just felt like everyone disliked me for no reason at all, because they hadn’t even taken the chance to get to know me. I hated that feeling, and thus hated going to Pre-K and would beg my parents not to take me. Things did turn around for me, though. One day, a boy named Taylor stood up for me when the other kids were picking on me. After that, we became best friends. All it takes is one person to understand what it feels like to be “the other” to turn things around for the better. I was very grateful to have someone understand.

    • Katie Underdown says:

      And now that I have read Dr. Carroll’s reply, I shall re-reply with a different “the other” situation:

      Also when I was younger, I was part of Pony Club, which is a United States organization that focuses on teaching the youth of America about proper horse care. Pony Club was full of young girls, and because of this, any boy that joined pony club got special treatment. One time, our particular team in Pony Club went to a horseback riding competition to compete. Our team for the competition was composed of three guys and one other girl and me. The ones in charge of the competition were so focused on giving the guys special treatment that they made me stable manager- so I couldn’t even ride in the competition and my job was to help the other team members take care of their horses. This frustrated me because I really wanted to ride in the competition, but at the same time I was just glad to be there at the competition. I do believe that most decisions that were made in Pony Club were focused around pampering the guys since there were so few of them, which happened to be unfair to some of the girls, like me. I wish they had just simply treated us all the same and didn’t focus so much on making sure the guys were enjoying being in the club. If the guy had joined, then he obviously wanted to be there to some degree, and he didn’t need special treatment to keep him in the club. They shouldn’t have given any one special treatment just because of their gender.

  10. Nicole says:

    I’ve felt like an “other” most of my life either by being marked by social class or my race. I lived in el Paso, Texas until I was 14 and moved to Georgia. In el Paso, I was raised without a clear understanding of racism merely because my two closest friends were both Hispanic and African American. I realized that they were a different race, but it never registered that there was something innately different. It was not until I got a bit older that I was separated from my community in the form of race. I was about 8 years old when a group of boys in my neighborhood called my name in a harassing manner. However, it wasn’t because we were friends it was because I was Caucasian. They screamed at me “Wheta! wheta! wheat!” along with “Hey gringa!” (translated to “white girl”) I was more surprised than upset at this scene because these were boys I had known almost my entire life. They continued to make comments about my pale legs and called me a “ghost.” It was obvious during my time in elPaso, but it was not until that moment that I realized I was the minority and people were quick to remind me of this.

  11. Nicole says:

    I forgot to address the other part of the question. I suppose what I wish the group of boys valued was my character. Although we were not friends growing up, they knew me from class and never had a problem with me. I feel like they learned somewhere that elpaso is for hispanic people and everybody else was somehow out of place, so let’s remind them of this. I wish that the first attention I ever got from them wasn’t because of my race, but instead because of who I was.

  12. Leeann says:

    One time when I felt like the other was when I first moved to Georgia. I was 12yrs old and had lived in Naples, FL until that point. After I moved, I started 8th grade in Gaylesville, AL. It is a very small school and my class only had 29 people. Everyone in the class had been there since kindergarten so they basically grew up together. Since I was the “new kid”, I just didn’t fit in. Everybody had their own group and I just didn’t belong. Also, because I was in a new place, I didn’t assert myself. I felt like an outcast for awhile. Here I was in this new place and nobody talked to me. I wanted to move back to Florida every day. It was hard for awhile, but I eventually made friends. I eventually became “part of the family”, but it definately took ‘feeling like the other’ before I was able to.

  13. Alex Middleton says:

    It’s hard to be the Other when you are a middle-class white Christian male, but there was a time period where I felt like the minority. For two years, I worked at a movie theater where out of 15 workers, I was the only white employee. There was never any racial tension or anything like that. We all got along very well. But on one occasion, I could see some clear differences in opinion. It was the summer of the great Michael Vick meltdown, in which he was arrested and charged for cruelty and torture to animals. At work one day, three other employees and myself got into a debate about the whole Vick situation. I was very happy he had been charged, and felt that he was total scum. The other employees, however, did not see anything wrong with what Vick did. “They’re just dogs,” they would say. When I protested, they would just say, “You think like that just because it’s the way y’all think–y’all love dogs like they are people.” I really didn’t take much offense to what they said, even though it seemed very pointed at my race. It just felt very frustrating to be the talked-down, minority voice in the situation, especially over something I felt strongly about. I wish that the employees could understand why animal cruelty bothered me so much, and I also wish I could have been more empathetic of their opinions.

  14. Katie Curry says:

    My experience with the Other is one that, when compared to the rest of the group, may seem more amusing than anything else. When I was in middle school and the first two years of high school, I was a self proclaimed member of the goth kids. This may be hard to believe, my current style of dress considered, but I would not lie about such a thing. My friends were the ones who would pierce their own lips with safety pins during history and write emo poetry in the courtyard during lunch. We were generally looked down upon by the Abercrombie crowd and I was once asked to leave a store because I was, “scaring away the real customers.” This sort of othering was completely by choice, but I can understand the tensions other people described. I really enjoy all kinds of people, they’re fascinating and I feel that so long as your personal choices aren’t endangering your own life or the lives of others, do with your style of dress and activities what you will. I did have friends who were of other social cliques, but it would often take a forced project or shared bus route for a person who wasn’t dressed in all black and playing their music too loud to talk to me. I suppose I wish younger students were more open minded – it doesn’t exactly matter if your pants have straps on them or if they’re artfully distressed.

  15. James Clarke says:

    I think at some point or another we all feel as if we are the “Other”, especially as we are growing up. For me, it was my overactive imagination. I was, and still am often, firmly rooted in the clouds rather than here on earth. The problem is, now I am a functioning part of adult society, for the most part, but back then I was just a nerdy, skinny, poor, white kid.

    On more than one occasion, I was marked as the outsider by classmates in middle school. I was “one of those kids” that sat at that “other” table in the lunch room where we talked about comics and card games and science fiction movies, instead of about the coming weekend’s party or cars and how we needed to get a fake ID to buy cigarettes. My family couldn’t afford the clothes that it took for kids to be cool, or any other perks that come with being one of the rich kids at school.

    To me, none of what they stood for mattered. Everything except being liked by other people that were liked. What is it about the “in” crowd that is so appealing? I think after years of being purposefully separated it can either break a person or make them stronger. I can confidently say that I embraced being the “other” throughout school, and began to capitalize on it as I got older. By the end of highschool, and through my nearly eight years since graduation, I have realized that it is far better sometimes to be the unique “other”, rather than the conforming majority.

    Think about it. What do people who stereotype others have? They can call people nerdy or cool, black or white, rich or poor, or any other manner of possible derogatory insult that is designed and executed in a negative connotation. However, it often just speaks to their lack of identity than another person’s abundance of certain identifying and stereotypical characteristics. For myself, one could say that I’m a nerdy, poor, old white guy. The question would be, what does the person who says these things of me have? They call me nerdy, but why? Because I have a hobby that they don’t agree with? Or interests that they do not share? So what! That I’m poor? Kiss my ass I pay nearly $30K a year to attend one of the best private colleges in the state. I’ll be paying for it for years to come, but to me it is worth it. That I’m older than other people are here? Yeah, it took me a while to wise up and do something with my life. While some students just beginning their twenties find it hard to identify with people who have already been out into some of the world and then returned to college life, I consider it a blessing. I didn’t like what I found, and rather than keep digging a hole, I did something about my situation.

    I realize that often times, excluding or singling out a group of people is in poor taste, especially in most forms of media. However, there are groups and individuals (like myself) that pride themselves on being singled out. Some organizations relish in the fact that they separate and discussed as being different than what the majority considers to be “normal”. To them I say good for you. We need more “others” in this world.

  16. Carina Brommet says:

    There have been many times in my life where I have been “the Other.” My family has moved a lot: 11 different schools before college, never one longer than two years, so I had to struggle to fit in every single time. In many schools I was the “Jesus Freak” or the “Smart Kid.” But the most difficult time came when I spent a few years right before coming to Georgia in a small town in Southern California. I was one of two dedicated Christians on my high school campus, and one of the only ones not willing to go out and party. As a result, I was labeled a freak by the majority of my peers. My father is Dutch and I also had traces of his accent, which made me even more alienated. Many of the kids at school saw me as “high and mighty” or a “freak,” a “good-two-shoes.” I was especially teased for my faith. On the opposite side, my father was the new pastor of the new Baptist church and few of the members liked the modernization he wanted to do, so there I was the “pastor’s kid” and “not Christian enough” because my family had views on worship that differed from the church’s traditions. Suddenly, I was an outsider in both worlds.

    I always wished that kids my age and the people of the church would be more open-minded and more persistent. Just because someone isn’t willing to drink or smoke or party doesn’t mean they don’t know how to have a good time. And just because someone doesn’t believe in wearing blue jeans to church and has traces of their father’s accent doesn’t mean they are high and mighty. We should never give up on each other after the first attempt.

  17. Dakota says:

    One of the more recent instances in which I have been the “Other” happened all throughout this past summer while working in an Atlanta recording studio. Since the studio was the Reynoldstown area and Atlanta is known for its hip-hop scene, a lot of African American rappers came through the studio. I was at the studio 4 – 5 days a week, and this happened the majority of the time I was there.

    Basically, I worked in the studio along with an African American man named Marcus. If any of the rappers coming in to record had any issues they would always ask Marcus for help / advice even though I was just as, if not more, qualified than him. If Marcus wasn’t in the room at the time, instead of asking me their question, they would either go looking for Marcus, wait until Marcus got back from wherever he went, call someone else, or just start pulling cables and trying to figure things out on their own (aka, messing everything in the studio up).

    It got to the point where it was almost comical. Rappers would peek in the office, see me sitting at the desk and quickly walk down the hall to Marcus’s office. This happened nearly every time.

    I really wish that I would have been assessed by not the color of my skin, but rather my skill level in the studio, my technological prowess, if you will. I just wanted to be able to show that, if need be, white guys can lay down “phat beatz” too!

  18. knlavey says:

    Alright, as I read over the topic and the posts, something came to mind about my high school days. I realized everyone feels like the “other” during the adolescence stages of life. Sometimes we grow out of it or we just grow to embrace it.

    I was a sophomore. I was also considered a minority in my high school because there was so much diversity-socially and culturally. I’d hear occasional comments, “Stupid, white girl,” or some derogatory words in spanish relating to my race and sex… etc. Especially times if I had looked at someone the ‘wrong way,’ I would get comments directed at me. I remember an incident where race had become a huge ordeal because a girl and her friends thought I was racist (I some how singled her out) and tried to explain to her (in mid fight/yelling) I wasn’t, I just had a bad temper. A girl had pushed my mom out of the way in the auditorium after a talent show we had attended. She shoved her and then tried to push me. out of the way and my first reaction was to grab her and say something. The girl and I made a scene. And race became an issue when she started talking trash to my face and her friends were hollering things about my race, class, sex, etc. The administration had to step in to break it up. I didn’t fight with her because of race and she started saying it was about how I was a rich white girl and other assortments of profanities.

    But in ways I felt discriminated against or looked at as an “other.” And she did too, by the way she acted to me telling her to watch where she walked next time. I also stood out from the norm because I “started” it… I was young and stupid.

    We all make statements. We all go through the “other” stage. I was also the kid with certain clothing and hair style choices that made me an other. The people I hung out with had a certain stereotype. But that never bothered me, unless it was personal. I grew to accept that people are allowed to comment, judge, criticize, etc. because it helps us coup. Being the ‘other’ can have its perks, especially since I’ve learned from it. I’ve expanded my mind in education as well as life experiences.

  19. knlavey says:

    I clearly need to expand my grammar and editing skills more before posting. Sorry.

  20. Brin Enterkin says:

    It is difficult for me to relate to anyone who has experience serious prejudice. I for one have never endured racism, class discriminating or outward criticism for my faith. In fact, I grew up in the same house my entire life, attending elementary, middle and high school with the same group of friends—which I would never change for the world. But needless to say, I was never the “other.” Well, until this summer.

    This previous summer I lived in Uganda for two months. I went to this foreign country, unfamiliar with the language and completely alone. I walked out of the airport, and I never felt more like the “other” ever before. I hopped in a tut tut (scooter) and went to the village I was assigned to live in. As I got out of the tut tut I was swarmed with people who neither looked like me nor dressed like me. The culture was completely different and at times almost unbearable. They looked at me strangely when I requested to use toilet paper, and asked how I knew how to ride a bike, because that was restricted for men only. As I went to work men would laugh at me, because they thought microfinancing jobs were only for men. Sometimes they would verbally cat call me as I walked down the street. And anywhere I went I would be overcharged for my purchase. At first I was angry.

    However, the more I became friends with the locals and holding my own at my job the more respect I earned. These beautiful people noticed the amount of difference I had to overcome as the “other” in their homogenous culture. And fortunately attempted to understand and help me through this process… the longer I stayed the more I started to feel like the lucky one.

    So many years ago, this kind of treatment was unheard of from our end. It’s so very easy to think the “other” is stupid and ignorant, and then these inward emotions turn outward and lead to sometimes horrific forms of discrimination. It’s true, sometimes people look for a reason to get angry at society as the “other,” but many times it is due to the majority’s perception of them in the first place.

  21. tschneider says:

    What a fabulous question! I believe my whole life has been an ‘other’. I shall explain. For the majority of my life I have lived with my father. We moved around a lot because my dad is a pastor and we move when the church tells us to which doesn’t sound to odd, but it is when you are a little tan brown eyed girl and your dad is a big white man with bright blue eyes living in a small country town in Indiana. You can quickly see how I might become the ‘other’. In the town of Poland,In, where the population was less than 900 and only 4 people lived on my block, I was the only brown girl (by brown I mean inter-racial. my mom is black and my dad is white. I don’t like using the word black because we are all different shades of brown but not everybody knows what I mean by brown.) In my elementary school there were a grand total of 3 brown children, me and two brothers. There were many times when I felt as if I was the ‘other’ because there was no one that looked like me. Most of the time I didn’t always feel as though I was the ‘other’, probably because I was so young. However when I grew up I became more aware of my otherness. Besides living in a small country town in Indiana we have lived in a very urban setting. In Denver, Co I attended the inner city public school where the schools were very diverse and even then I was considered the ‘other’. The other brown students teased me because I was lighter than them, or as they put it, light bright almost white. Even by the people who I most identified with, the other brownies, didn’t accept me because I was the ‘other’ brown girl.
    This idea of being the ‘other’ for a majority of my life is because of my appearance as a biracial young lady.

  22. Kyler says:

    The only time I can remember truly feeling like an “Other” or an outsider was when I spent a week in Pennsylvania. I was there with my church group, but we were split up and placed in different host houses in inner-city Philadelphia. The entire week I felt as though I was being talked about, ridiculed and laughed at. Being a southerner, there are obviously some things about me that would stand out to a northerner. I always instinctively request sweet tea at restaurants. They obviously had none in Philly. This became a running joke with my host family. It made me feel as though my heritage was less important than theirs because they chose to make a joke out of it. They jokingly referred to me as Jeff Foxworthy while I was there. While I know they were only kidding, it was still offensive to me that they would associate me with what is seen by many as a stereotypical southern white guy. I really wish they had valued my heritage and roots as much as they valued their own. They treated their way of life as if it was the only way of life. I wish they had equal respect for me and the way I may do certain things.

    On the whole, this was a pretty cruddy experience in my adolescence, but it made me realize, even at a young age, that it is important to always treat people who are different from you with respect.

  23. Lauren Jones says:

    When I was in 6th grade, I looked like a pale, skinny rodent with dental issues. I was very vulnerable and honestly, weak. But I had the drive to really put myself out there; I wanted to prove myself. So, I decided to try out for my middle school’s cheerleading squad. The squad was predominately African American. In fact, all the 7th and 8th grade cheerleaders were African American. Many white 6th graders tried out; only three made it, and I was one of them.

    I had rhythm, and a loud cheering voice. ALL of the cheers required intense rhythm. They all had a stomp-clap kind of theme, you know. But the little white kids were isolated and bossed around. I was very intimidated by the older cheerleaders. At this point in life, I hadn’t developed a backbone. I felt weird speaking up, because I was kind of an outcast anyway. But when I walked onto the court, all skin and bones, I suppose I shocked the hell out of them, because I got the more complicated cheers and was not afraid to “yell it out.”

    But I hated the feeling of not belonging at first. I guess I worked my way into the… what should I call it? The “in crowd” of cheerleaders? But I ended up showing them I could do what they did and gained respect. It took a month or two, but I made myself heard. At the end of the season, I got the “Most Spirited” trophy. Whoo hoo.

    There have been more instances when I was the Other. That is the first that comes to mind, but I have learned from personal experiences to try and not single people out. We are all guilty of labeling and stereotyping. It makes things easier for us if we put people into boxes: goth, prep, scene kid, wannabe, poser, etc. But I’d like to think that we have all been Others at one point and know to think twice before we isolate or label people.

    But maybe, I’m an “optimist.”

  24. Ana H. says:

    All through school, I fit in pretty well. There were few times when I felt like “the other.” Only one time sticks out in my mind.

  25. Ana H. says:

    Whoops, there is more to that.

    I was never one of the popular crowd in high school but I got along with everyone. I had friends who liked to party and friends who palyed Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends. I on the other hand stayed at home, on the couch, with my mom on the weekends. I was never invited to parties, or to play Dungeons and Dragons for that matter. I always felt left out, because I had a higher set of morals than my friends. I would always tell my mom where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with, and apparently the people that I hung out with at school and that came to my house sometimes, didn’t want my mom to know what they did on the weekends when their parents were away. There was one weekend in particular when I had been invited to a sleep over at a friend’s house. We were going to go to the movies and then back to her house. While at the movies we met up with some of our other friends that were going to a party that night and got all invited. I guess they realized that I was in the group and when I came out of the bathroom to go with them, they were all gone. I had been stranded at the theatre because they knew that I would tell my mom what the plan was, so that she wouldn’t worry. I felt a lot like “the other: at that moment, because of my morals and for wanting my mother to trust me I had been deserted by my friends.

  26. Jessica Gilker says:

    I have felt like the “Other” in several aspects of my life, not racially an “Other”, but during middle school and high school. Even moving to Rome to go to Berry I have felt like an ‘other’. I grew up on a horse farm in the middle of the suburbs of Atlanta where everyone grew up in big neighborhoods and where my most of my classmates played team sports. I never had the chance to have close neighbors or be involved in neighborhood play groups. I knew less people than most as I went through school. My sport and hobby was riding horses, which I did at my family’s farm with just my sister and mother. I felt like I had less connections with kids in school than most did. When everyone socialized in school I always thought I was missing something or felt like I just wanted to get away from everyone. I would seriously try to hide myself in classes, either at the back or very front of the class room to avoid the “average” student at my school- the preppy, rich, white team athlete with a crude and cruel sense of humor. I had a hard time brushing off any rude comments or criticisms from my classmates. I also couldn’t believe how lazy people could be and how someone could not do their own work. I had had responsibilities dealing with horses since all my life and rolled over to my school work. I felt like in most of my classes I cared more about my work than others.
    Riding horses also was seen to other students as something easy and definitely not a sport. It’s even the case now. I often felt and feel like an “other” just because of the sport and hobby I have such passion for. I feel like I work just as hard as other athletes and have more responsibilities in my “sport” because the care (27 hours, 7 days a week) required for the horses. It’s not just about riding, it’s a life just like other sports, with its own lingo and beliefs and every day care of the horses. Even in the ‘horse world’ there are stereotypes, from the type of riding you do to the types of horses you own or ride. It’s crazy how stereotypes can distance people when really they have so much in common. My family owns and shows Arabian and Half Arabian horses. When other horse people find this out they grow suspicious of my abilities and knowledge. The horses are considered “crazy” and looked down upon. I have to earn other riders trust even if my ability or knowledge is greater than theirs. I often feel like an “other” on my own equestrian team in college. It has taken patience to ignore the insults that I get from my teammates on the Arabian horses I have loved, trained, and shown my entire life. But it is a stereotype even the smallest girl is taught when she is first learning to ride horses. I have heard and seen it myself. But I know, and wish other people (and my teammates) knew, how talented my own Arabian and Half Arabian horses are. Overall, now, I find myself wanting to spend more time with horses and my art than with most people. The feel of being the “Other” can be created at school or work or in something seeming so small and insignificant, to some, as the world of horses.

  27. I really like Carina’s and Tiffany’s experiences feeling like the Other in two very different contexts, for opposite reasons. For Carina, excluded at school for one set of reasons, then at church for the opposite — for that set of reasons not being ‘churchy’ enough (my words, not hers). For Tiffany, being brown in ultra white Poland, then for being too light-skinned in inner city Denver.

    These stories make an excellent point about juxtaposition, or context. Though neither Carina nor Tiffany had changed when finding themselves in these different contexts, the reactions of the groups around them were opposite. So the problem or issue or dynamic doesn’t have much to do with them; it has nearly everything to do with stereotype and with what that larger group ‘sees’ or doesn’t see. The more you know the more you see? The more you see the more you know? These groups haven’t seen enough; they don’t know enough.

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