Marginalized People and the Self Fulfilling Prophecy

15 06 2010

Last semester, in my Minority and Intergroup Relations class, we did an exercise where we were Social Workers who were trying to help find work for a young African American cis male and a 50 year old white cis woman. Lots of legitimate suggestions came up (computer classes, technical school, etc) and then a brilliant person mentioned the Self Fulfilling Prophecy.

“Well you know, sometimes minorities will believe that people are going to discriminate against them and so they’ll act like they’re going to and then they’ll end up not getting the job.”

Yes.

That’s right.

Marginalized people, who face discrimination in every aspect of life, bring employment discrimination upon themselves. It’s their fault they can’t get a job! They should stop acting so black/trans/disabled/gay if they want a job!

I was discussing finding a job with my case worker today, and she asked me if I thought I’d been discriminated against in trying to find a new job. I have experienced quite a bit, as employers think because oif the disability they can see, I won’t be able to work. But I probably just set myself up for failure because I know that employers will discriminate against me because of the way my eyes look.

Blaming the marginalized person for the hatred and discrimination they face is a silencing tactic. It makes the victim of discrimination feel as though they are responsible for the hatred they face, that they are somehow deserving of it. And when this happens, discrimination goes unreported, privilege goes unchecked, and hatred is allowed to flourish.

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One response

27 06 2010
Devorah

What the person was talking about is when someone is trying too hard to make up for the perceived “fault”, by behaving as if they are too openly a “pleaser” sort of person. The problem with this behavior is that it creates distrust. Who is this person, really?
People trust strong, confident people. People who believe that they darn well are good enough for any job in the darn company, and anyone who doesn’t agree is unfortunately mistaken. And that’s whether they have every skill being asked for or not.
You are correct, pretty much without question that you probably are being discriminated against because of your perceived issues. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Try to remember some of your favorite move characters or news commentators who behave confidently, who seem to be so strong that you can’t ignore it.
Could the strength of their perceived personality make the difference? Can you do the same?

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