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Taken for Granted: Stigma

She said to me, when I first received the news that I was HIV positive. I felt downcast, and I told myself it was the end of the world. All I thought about was how I was going to survive with this new status. Sooner than later, I accepted the challenge of possibly being rejected by my society. This I did understand as their way of close-minded thinking. With regards to going public, I considered the backlash my spouse, children, extended family, and friends would go through but then, I had to make it known. This for me was a means of being free from more shackles. A few months later, people began to stereotype me as an irresponsible wife and a mother. I was labeled.

My notion of stigma is separation and disgrace. Stigma has to do with stereotype, labeling, separation, loss of status, and discrimination. When people are interested in keeping other people down, in, or away, the resource that allows this to happen is stigma. Stigmatizers become empowered to exploit, control, or exclude others. Interestingly, the most effective ways of deploying stigma is mostly hidden or even misrecognized.

Mechanisms of deploying stigma

1. Direct person to person discrimination: This occurs when an individual openly expresses prejudicial attitudes to another. This is a blatant form of stigmatization.

2. Structural discrimination: This is a form of institutional discrimination whereby there are laws, policies, and so on that work against the stigmatized or the so-called socially deviant.

3. Interactional discrimination: Here, people bring expectations to the interaction. For instance, you naturally assist a disabled person even without asking. This is a form of stigmatization almost everyone does without knowing. There is no crime in helping, but beneath the help is the known fact that the person is disabled and would necessarily need help.

4. Self-discrimination: As a result of different social constructionism, individuals who feel and are termed different from the norm, tend to internalize and recreate personal stigma. Here, they are prepared for any form of stigma and discriminate themselves personally.

Stigma has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society such that we wallow in it unconsciously hence, taken for granted. Though challenging to tackle, whether you are a victim of stigmatization or you want to stand up for someone, here are a few ways you could go about it:

  1. Know the Truth: Knowledge always trumps discrimination. Find out as much as you can about the cause of the problem. Then, your judgments can be justifiable.
  2. Be conscious of your Language: Our words carry power, and as individuals, several meanings can be read to a word.
  3. Be conscious of your Actions.
  4. Challenge misconceptions: Know the truth and fight for it.
  5. Be Compassionate.

To build a just and sustainable community that looks beyond class, race, ethnic, age differences, among others. You should be supportive of others. Never look down on others. Be aware that people go through different situations at different times and different factors may be the cause. Therefore, decide never to be judgmental without the place of knowing. Love everyone for who they are; we are unique beings.

Published by Tobi Oloyede

Tobi Oloyede is a young visionary with a flair for personal and population developments. Rather than being pinned down by the challenges around her, she is dedicated to learning new ideas and getting the best out of life. She is one that is inspired by the popular Yoruba saying, "Ona kan o wo oja- There is no one/single route to the market." She holds her first degree in English and Literary Studies from the Ekiti State University, Nigeria, a Master's degree in Gender and Diversity from East Tennessee State University, and is currently a Sociology graduate student at Georgia Southern University. Writing is one of the several other things she loves to do and she brings it upon herself to make the world a better place through her writings. For her, 'the pen is always mightier and with it, she speaks volumes.' BE THE LIGHT, BE THE CHANGE…A BETTER YOU, A BETTER WORLD.

8 thoughts on “Taken for Granted: Stigma

  1. Again, good blog, Tobi. How would you recommend I assist a disabled person whom, it appears to me, needs assistance? Should I ask, “May I help you?” I agree it’s stigmatizing to jump right in and help where it might not be needed or welcomed, but should I wait for him/her to ask?

    Like

  2. Thank you ma’am. It is pretty much complicated. First, asking itself reinforces stigma. I think it’s better to be asked for help.

    Like

  3. I truly don’t know how you find the time to churn out a great write-up like this! Amazing. This piece on stigma should be widely read as it is a world-wide issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I beg to differ on the Interactional Stigmatisation. Because beneath the perceived ‘stigmatisation’ is a genuine offer to assist one in need. As such shouldn’t be taking as a stigma. If random acts of helping the needy is a stigma in itself, then no one would help those in need.

    Liked by 1 person

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