I Am Not the Most Marginalized Person Out There

A white stool on brown carpet behind a dark blue wall. I chose this image because it reminds me of how I feel when I am treated as the most marginalized in the room: alone, hypervisible, and left out.

I do not like most discussions on privileges. Why? Because they make me look like I’m the most marginalized person out there and I’m simply not.

I’m thin. I’m an US Citizen. My primary language is English. While disabled, I can work. My disabilities are also pretty cheap to deal with and easy to accommodate for. I have a master’s degree, making me highly educated. There’s other privileges that I have not listed, but I wanted to outright state at least some of the privileges that I have.

In most discussions of privilege, this is rarely acknowledged. The discussions are typically on race, gender, or sexuality, all of which I don’t have privilege in. I’m Black, nonbinary, and asexual. White US Citizens particularly get mad when I state that I don’t have privilege on these axis because that is the extent of how most of them can even think about privilege. To them, I am the most marginalized person they know.

Every time I walk into a room and I’m the most marginalized person there, I am immensely bothered. Who is being excluded when the entire room is made of US citizens? Who is being excluded when there’s not a single Spanish speaker? Who is being excluded when I don’t see a single fat person in the room? Who is being excluded in a disability advocacy space when I’m the only nonwhite disabled person there?

In my fight for equality and equity, I make sure to acknowledge my privilege. I don’t have to worry about being deported because I have citizenship. I don’t have to worry about finding content in my 1st language because the world accommodates English speakers. I don’t have to worry about if a building is wheelchair accessible because I do not use a wheelchair. I don’t have to worry about if I’ll be too big for a chair.

But if I state my privileges outright and ask white people to acknowledge their privilege, they get really mad. They’ll call me stupid for even thinking citizenship is a privilege or start turning my own privilege against me and asking me why I’m not centering those without those privileges.

I can’t even begin to center them if you can’t handle people with more privilege like myself. How can you handle a nonbinary immigrant from Nigeria whose 2nd language is English if you can’t even handle me? How can you a nonbinary fat femme rocking their own style if you can’t even handle my skinny nonbinary self?

You can say “center the most marginalized” all you want, but when you’re excluding people that aren’t even the most marginalized like myself, how can I trust you to actually center their needs? This phrase in particular has been bothering me lately because when I say it, most white folks think that I’m asking to be centered. I am not. I am asking you to center the most marginalized, not me. However, their bubble is so small that I am usually the most marginalized they can handle and most of the time they can’t even handle me.

If this inspires you to do better, start talking to immigrants. Notice who is being excluded from a room. See what unintentional assumptions that you are making. Together, we can make the world a happier place for everyone.

Originally posted on Medium. Link to Medium post: https://medium.com/@merlinstar/i-am-not-the-most-marginalized-person-out-there-6a86f96e7da7

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