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Achieving Inclusion Within Communities

Kristy Plaza |
March 26, 2013 | 5:42 p.m. PDT

Editor's Note: "Achieving Inclusion Within Communities" is part of Kristy Plaza's series, Kristy's Corner.

One of my goals in life is to become a part of communities that I believed would help define my identity. These included LGBT, Hispanic, journalist, feminist and general activist communities. I have chosen to develop my identity through my involvement in these communities because I want to be surrounded by people who share my beliefs and perhaps my goals.

Until recently, I believed that there was no wrong within these communities or dilemmas to be fixed. I truly believed we were moving towards a more intersectional and inclusive society.

However, this is not always the case. Sure, there are many times when the organizations on campus collaborate with one another to produce an open space and share a united front. But, as many times as this occurs, there are also times when there are miscommunications and—for lack of a better word—drama between and within communities. There are moments when not every individual is represented or respected within his or her own community.

Communities are made up of individuals who have their own beliefs, needs, opinions, morals, etc. These individuals choose to join a community of people who share some of these ideas, but not all. It has to be taken into account that not all people will think the same simply because they are in the same community.

Furthermore, even within marginalized communities, there exists a majority and a minority. Take the LGBT community. Many people believe that LGBT means “gay.” However, this negates the rest of the acronym: what about the lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people? Do they not count in the equation?

Society views lesbians as an act: a woman can be with another woman, but it’s treated as if it’s not real. But lesbians fall in love just like gays fall in love. Bisexuals aren’t even given a passing glance: you are just selfish or haven’t found the right person yet. Does this mean that bisexuals don’t experience the same crazy, passionate, illogical love that we all do?

Transgender people are forgotten, maybe because society doesn’t take the time to get educated. These individuals have to face the struggle of accepting themselves while defending their identity to all of society, with no support. The LGBT community often seems to forget that there is, and has always been, a “T.”

This is simply one community in which inclusion needs to be reevaluated. Like many marginalized communities, there are issues of inclusion because there is a focus on the top group. Within Hispanic communities, most attention is given to Mexicans, despite the fact that the term Hispanic includes Salvadorians, Peruvians, Cubans, and others. Even I, a proud Mexican, sometimes forget this very fact.

No community is perfect or without flaws, but it is because all communities need to be intersectional and inclusive that we need to put effort into making them better. Despite the Supreme Court’s review of DOMA and Prop 8 and the fact that four states have legalized same-sex marriage, 46 states still don’t have marriage equality. There is still homophobia, sexism, racism, ageism and other forms of discrimination.

Identity communities exist so that there is a place for marginalized individuals to find a haven. So it seems obvious that these communities would support each other. That even within these communities, every person would be heard and represented. This is not always the case, but it should be.


Reach Columnist Kristy Plaza here.



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