It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find a reputable news outlet, so we are being forced to become conscious of the media we consume. We get to pick and choose what kinds of media we consume and from whomever we please. This creates conflict, mixed messages and negative perceptions of many groups.
Specifically, I am speaking about marginalized people. The difference between a marginalized person and a minority is that a marginalized person or population is, by definition, insignificant, left to the fringes of society. In this case, I am speaking mostly socially, but this can be economically, racially or ethically, and often they are tied together.
A minority person or population is a group of persons that is a smaller part of a whole. These two things being different, minority persons are often also marginalized.
Last week I attended the Sundance Film Festival, where I got to listen to many marginalized people tell their stories for the first time and bring some understanding to the way they experience life. I want to express the importance of marginalized people having a place in media.
I watched a story of an immigrant family in the ’80s navigate running their own farm. I watched a family and community in Texas celebrate Juneteenth, a day commemorating the abolition of slavery in Texas.
These are experiences I will never live, but in 90 minutes, I was immersed in stories that will impact the way I understand and communicate with people in the future. The lack of representation of these marginalized people is a leading part of the misunderstanding within this country; both of these films are indicative of that to me.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book titled “Talking to Strangers,” in which the leading premise is that when communication breaks down, and when there is no understanding, conflict can lead to tragedy.
Instead of disagreeing with those who hold opposing views, look nothing like you or act nothing like you, hear what they have to say. Their experiences are not wrong or untrue because you do not subjectively understand them. Listen to your neighbor.
The communication tragedy Gladwell writes about would decrease significantly if we just listened louder to one another instead of screaming at the top of our lungs — deafened by our own needs versus those of each other.
I encourage you to be conscious of the media you consume and the media outlets that you trust. Get out of the media bubble you have created for yourself and listen to those who have opposing views or experience life differently than you.
For marginalized people, your platform reaches more people than you know. There is victory in sharing any story that defeats evil and cures loneliness. I encourage you to tell your story of how you have not been properly represented or entirely misrepresented. There are people who will find comfort in knowing you share the same pain, or grow stronger by validating their story.