Othering and Space for Belonging

I tend to surround myself with a very specific type of person. So when I think about this question it is not a question of race, gender, or social class, but a question of personality and a question of values and morals. I’ll take my sorority for example. It is a group on my campus of like-minded, and like-actioned women, or people who have been socialized as women at some point in their life. So I guess there is a question of gender, but not really because of the concept of being socialized as a certain gender. When people want to join this organization, we assess if their values align with that of the group, if their morals do, and if their personalities align. So, in this situation, the “others” would be people whose virtues and morals do not align.

An example of this is when a girl who had been welcomed into the organization had questionable virtues that manifested themselves in the form of racist comments and homophobic comments. We made the decision to ask her to leave the organization as she was not contributing positively to the group’s morals and values because of her positionality on these things that were harmful to other members whom we valued in the group. She then turned into an “other” in that specific group.

I think it is important and worth saying that just because someone can be an “other” to you, that does not necessarily mean that they are an “other” to everyone. One of my favorite things about human existence is that there is a space and a place for everyone, and although this girl was not welcomed to grow and change in our space, that does not mean that she will not find somewhere else to grow and change. I hope that our choice in letting her go will help her learn, grow, and realize that there are certain things that you cannot say. I am an optimistic person when it comes to the potential of human beings, and believe in her capacity to find a group where she will not make the decision to become “othered”.

Othering on the international stage is different from othering in interpersonal relationships, in my opinion. In an international setting, there should be more room for cultural and belief differences, whereas, in my own interpersonal relationships, I do not keep much room for ignorance or differences in beliefs that manifest themselves in harmful ways. I believe that there is so much to learn on this earth and that everyone has the potential to do good deeds. To open my mind to people that I would initially push aside might assist me in being more forgiving.






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