“Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when . . . it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged” -G.W.F Hegel
In our modern multicultural sensitive society, it is unheard of to discuss any parts of exclusion—less known arguing its real existence in post. I admit I have a hard time saying aloud, or even in a post like this, what I practice every waken moment of my life. In my mind exclusion is the very essence that separates and makes us better or different from them. How can I be superior if they are not inferior? Superiority effectuates inferiority, the same holds true for all binary relationships. The others are for each individual a mirrored interpretation of what we perceive we are not and have no desire to be. Furthermore, without exclusion we would have no clear boundaries. Our own existence would be futile—a person less body. When we exclude a group or an individual we are subconsciously validating their existence as well as our own. Over the next few passages I will discuss various types of exclusion such as: the practice of shunning, my experience as a student in a Chicago Public Magnet School, and Texas.
In the Amish community when a baptized adult has broken the laws of the church they are formally shunned. The entire community will not talk to or even look at a person that is shunned. Family members do not eat with or touch anything that is touched by the shunned individual. The community is carrying on life as if this person no longer exists, a contagious cipher –better yet they are not acknowledging the shunned person’s existence. Usually a shunned person leaves the community because living an invisible life is not bearable. Consider the severity of all your friends and family members cutting you off from the very thing that makes you real – relationship. No one likes to be ignored. Just think—when you are in a heated discussion with your significant other and they will no longer engage you in the argument. You get even more frustrated! So just imagine a whole town simultaneously ignoring you, avoiding you, and not even sharing a meal with you. To no surprise the shunned person leaves the Amish community and joins a new society where the mark is unknown—validation is very important even if it means abandoning your way of life.
During my high school years initially to my chagrin, I attended Whitney Young Magnet HS. To those of you who are not familiar Whitney Young at the time I attended was one of the top schools in the city and third in the state. My mother was proud and I was disgusted because I could not attend the neighborhood school. All my friends went there, why couldn’t I? I asked my Mother—opportunity she told me. Well, during my years at WY I became a snob of sorts. I sneered at my friends from the neighborhood whose schools didn’t have a swimming pool, or computers, or they had to walk through metal detectors. I stopped talking to them directly because the conversation I felt was pedestrian—in addition I knew that pedestrian meant more then the guy who crosses a street. But, when I was at WY everyone was like me. Grade Point of 3.8 was my invitation to the club and I didn’t really know that I was different or gifted or above average until I talked to my neighborhood friends – we spoke different languages. I excluded them from my inner circle. But in the same breathe I needed them—for my own realization of success. My relative success can only be evaluated in relationship to something else, someone else. My success, standalone, is unsubstantiated.
Over the past few years I have developed a slight repulsion to the whole state of Texas. I apologize ahead of time if you were born there. But lucky for you if you are reading these words you have gotten out alive. I consciously decided to exclude Texas about 7 years ago. In my opinion nothing worthwhile has come from Texas except misery. Texas is leading the nation in death by execution and has held that ignominious position since 1976. Texas is also the home to some of the most racially motivated hate crimes and lopsided adjudication—does anyone remember the black man drug by a pick up truck? The Little black girl in Paris, TX receives seven years jail time for shoving a hall monitor—three months prior the same judge gives a little white girl probation who was convicted of arson.
The dirty political tricks played in Texas makes the dead voting in the 1960 presidential race in Chicago seem less delinquent—example–Tom “the hammer” Delay and the gerrymandering of Texas. George H.W. Bush. Need I say more about why I exclude Texas? When I fly west I make sure in the flight plan the plane does not fly over Texas. I have grown to appreciate Chicago much more as I learn and travel to other regions of the country and the world. If I did not travel or read about other places I would have no comparison for my own town, especially when the comparison is so lopsided.
Exclusion is a necessary occurrence. It’s great when you’re the excluder but not as great when you are the excluded. We all play these roles and try are hardest to be as exclusive as possible as we get older – as our circle becomes smaller and smaller. The relationship between the excluded and the excluder is interdependent. One cannot exist with the other. The mutual validation is necessary.