Social Justice Usage
Source: Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 5.
Minoritized Group: A social group that is devalued in society and given less access to its resources. This devaluing encompasses how the group is represented, what degree of access to resources it is granted, and how the unequal access is rationalized. Traditionally, a group in this position has been referred to as the minority group. However, this language has been replaced with the term minoritized in order to capture the active dynamics that create the lower status in society, and also to signal that a group’s status is not necessarily related to how many or few of them there are in the population at large.
New Discourses Commentary
There are two interrelated primary reasons that Social Justice increasingly uses the term “minoritized group” in place of “minority group,” which it functionally replaces. First, because Social Justice views everything through a lens of systemic power dynamics, the term “minoritized” implies that people are being made into a marginalized status by those “active” dynamics (and, thus, by those with dominant status within it). Second, it is because that “minoritized” (i.e., non-dominant) status need not depend upon being a numerical minority, either now or in the future. It is fair to conclude from this these taken together that, while this shift in terminology possesses some obvious merit to justify its use, it is more strategic than nuancing.
Regarding the second property, for example, women represent a minoritized group in Social Justice despite being approximately 52% of the population because it is Theorized that systemic sexism and misogyny oppress women in our “patriarchal” societies. Furthermore, should white people ever become a numerical minority to some other race or to people of color more broadly, this will not affect the operant power dynamic by which white people are Theorized to oppress non-whites (see also, white supremacy and racism).
This first property is of utmost importance in terms of understanding the way Theory understands society to work. Social Justice Theory understands all facets of society to be socially constructed and under the dominion of systemic power dynamics of dominance and oppression. These are to be analyzed with a critical mindset that looks for these power dynamics in order to expose, disrupt, and dismantle them. Thus, minoritized status has to be understood as the result of an active, ongoing process. Of note, this makes accusations of complicity in dominance and oppression carry more weight and seem stickier. If the process is ongoing, one’s participation in it or refusal to seek to overthrow it can be understood as being part of the problem (see also, antiracism, critical consciousness, status quo, internalized dominance, and internalized oppression).
The second property is of crucial importance in terms of understanding how Theory will continue to work indefinitely into the future, revealing the strategic nature of the shift. While it is relevant to point out that women are not a minority group but are Theorized under feminist and other Theory as though they functionally are, by shifting focus away from minority status and onto minoritization by a system, it becomes possible in practice to continue insisting that historically and/or currently minoritized groups will also be so even should they achieve a numerical majority or even hegemonic advantage in terms of power. For instance, on this model it will always be possible to insist, even if some non-white racial group obtains genuine dominance as we would understand it in the common parlance, either that they are still subject to the oppression of an overarching white and white supremacist system (see also, whiteness) until such a structure is believed to be completely overthrown (see also, master’s tools and revolution) or that they deserve to be so in order to make up for historical injustices (see also, equity).
Antiracism; Complicity; Critical; Critical consciousness; Dismantle; Disrupt; Dominance; Equity; Feminism; Hegemony; Internalized dominance; Internalized oppression; Marginalization; Master’s tools; Misogyny; Patriarchy; People of color; Oppression; Race; Racism (systemic); Sexism (systemic); Social construction; Social Justice; Status quo; Structure; Systemic power; Theory; White; White supremacy; Whiteness
Source: Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 39.
To oppress is to hold down—to press—and deny a social group full access and potential in a given society. Oppression describes a set of policies, practices, traditions, norms, definitions, and explanations (discourses), which function to systemically exploit one social group to the benefit of another social group. The group that benefits from this exploitation is called the dominant (or agent) group and the group that is exploited is called the minoritized (or target) group.
Source: Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 48.
Dominant groups have the most narrow or limited view of a society because they do not have to understand the experiences of the minoritized group in order to survive; because they control the institutions, they have the means to legitimize their view (“I worked hard for what I have, why can’t they?”). Minoritized groups often have the widest view of society, in that they must understand both their own and the dominant group’s perspective—develop a double-consciousness—to succeed. But because they are in the margins, the view of minoritized groups is seen as the least legitimate in society, dismissed via phrases such as “they just have a chip on their shoulder, … complain too much, or … want special rights.”
Source: https://www.com.washington.edu/2017/04/minoritized-and-marginalized/; Nicole Harris – Current scholar at the University of Washington, Educated Black Wombman, Community Organizer, Privilege Interrupter.
It is important to realize that we are not minorities. “Minor” in itself means below, lesser in importance, seriousness or significance (Oxford dictionary, 2017). This term also implies that we are either inferior, subsidiary, or non-standard (as our own UW president Ana Mari Cauce said on record in 2016). We are minoritized. You can’t have a group of marginalized people without addressing the fact that others are privileged and benefitting from this system.
Revision date: 2/5/20