Last Updated 30 Mar 2021

Marginalization by Chandrakant Mallya

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In a scale, both arms are equally important. If one of them tilts, the result is imbalance. Compare the scale to the society. A perfect society viewed from any angle, is impossibility. Turn the pages of human history—perfection was never there. It is reasonable to assume that it will never be there!  It can not be completely avoided either. Society at any given time has not existed and functioned without marginalization!

Some of the definitions of marginalization are:

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  • “To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing.”
  • “Marginalization (USA) refers to the overt or covert trends within societies whereby those perceived as lacking desirable traits or deviating from the group norms tend to be excluded by wider society and ostracized as undesirables.”
  • Wing Leung describes A marginal person as "...one who does not belong...the marginal man... [dwells] at the margin of two cultures and two societies... [and possesses] a marginal mentality... [with its] unresolved identity crises."

Louis Wirth speaking of minority groups thus: "A group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination." This means, the more numerically dominant members, or the more prosperous section of the society gives unequal treatment leading to acts of social ostracism, acts of discrimination, leading to marginalization.

In “Sula” Tony Morrison traces the lives of two black heroines. They grow together in a small Ohio town—well, that’s the only common point about them. Otherwise, they are poles apart. Their paths are totally divergent, obviously their thinking as well! Nel Wright chooses the normal life of a black woman marries and settles in the place of her birth. She is part of the tightly-knit black community.

Sula Peace rejects this option outright. She escapes to a city, joins a college, and when she returns to her roots, she is a rebel. She decides to teach a lesson to the society that humiliated her in childhood. She mocks at the social norms, and she is a wanton sexual seductress. Her vicarious pleasure is depicted in her triumphant return to her village and she is extremely happy about the victory she scored by crossing the hurdles that she faced in her life due to the color of her skin. These two characters ably depict, with utmost sincerity to their own emotions, their suffering and enjoyment  in the light of various trials and tribulations that was part of their life and living.

The Civil War in USA led to the physical liberation. The War for economic liberation began thereafter. In Sula Toni Morrison provides us with the real history lesson with the depiction of the black way of life, a society which still continues to be marginalized both from social and economic standpoints. "Through their girlhood years they share everything -- perceptions, judgments, yearnings, secrets, even crime -- until Sula gets out, out of the Bottom, the hilltop neighborhood where beneath the sporting life of the men hanging around the place in head rags and soft felt hares there hides a fierce resentment at failed crops, lost jobs, thieving insurance men, bug-ridden flour . . . at the invisible line that cannot be overstepped.”  (Morison, 1973)

Fences is the story of four generations of black Americans.  The torch of legacy of morals, attitudes, mores and patterns passes through stories. Troy Maxon is the principle character of the play. Being a black, the part of the marginalized society of America, how and why he had to scale down his dreams to adjust inside his run-down yard. The opening scene   begins with Troy Maxon and his trusted friend Jim Bono engaged in drinking and talking.

The anguish of marginalization related victimization is evident, when he makes a formal compliant to his bosses, why only white men are permitted to drive garbage trucks for the waste disposal company. The deep impact of marginalization in Troy Maxon’s psyche is shown as he counsels his teenage son Cory Maxon when he is being actively recruited for a college football scholarship. His father discourages him, and tells him not to ignore other important responsibilities.

Troy wants that his son should never haul garbage like him. Cory represents all the possibilities his father never had and the unmet dreams. Yet the father is unwilling to let the son go on the path chosen by him to improve his lot in life.  His apprehension is that the white-dominated sports will not let Cory progress, and break his heart. Troy had spent fifteen years in jail for robbery and murder, but he became an accomplished baseball player in the jail.

After the release, when he could not get proper opportunities to display his skill, he is bitter and resentful at the chances lost because of the color of his skin. He wants to protect his son from facing such disappointments and turn cynical. It was due to marginalization that Troy’s life was full of difficulties, oppression coupled with bad luck. As a boy, due the abject poverty, he was denied education, he cannot even read.

Marginalization is practiced all over the world, and it embraces humanity. In the Developed World, racial and ethnic minority groups stand out as the most marginalized. Then there are other classes like, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the obese, teenage unwed mothers, the elderly, the homosexuals and lesbians. These groups suffer from one form of marginalization or the other-unemployment, poverty, poor health facilities and lack of education and the like. How can we strive to end it?

The question should be rather how we can mend it? The ending to marginalization can only be through mending the ways of the society. First of all, the affluent and the socially well placed members of the majority community should realize the grave injustice rendered to the affected society for centuries. Genuine repentance and willing acceptance to reform can only change the social structure. The change with-out can be achieved only through the change with-in. Society must have a will to change, and that is possible by the combined efforts of the government, social and spiritual organizations. It is high time that marginalization is given a ‘decent’ burial.

References

  1. Morrison, Toni, Sula: Excerpted from the book jacket: ... "In clear, dark, resonant language  ...
  2. .members.tripod.com/~bibliomania/archive3/morrison5.html - 9k –Retrieved on May 21, 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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