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  • Writer's pictureKirk

A Look at a Marginalized World

Marginalized people are those that live on the fringes of society. They are made to believe they are a less significant people. Typically because they are poorer, but not always. There are other ways to feel marginalized.

The news in the USA is quick to identify those who are marginalized in our country. But the big failure the national news does here is their failure to advocate for those around the world. This country is extremely national centric. To the point we don't truly know how bad the world wide problem of marginalization is.


Muslim Women

Traveling to the Muslim countries you will see women with no power. Their religious traditions and often their National laws mandate head coverings and dress that may cover all of their bodies. In strict interpretations of their law they must also wear a veil over their face only exposing their eyes.

Women are considered inferior to men. In some countries they cannot get a higher education or work outside the home. They are restricted from having any power. That's the very definition of marginalization.

When I came across this group of women, it was clear they knew they were on the margin, but they still wanted to be seen. To feel like they matter:


Oppressive Government

In communist China, which I've visited several times, I saw the vast majority marginalized. Even though the country has become an economic powerhouse, most of the people feel oppressed. With well over a billion people in the country it's easy to get lost in the sea:

Streets of Beijing

This picture depicts the attitude I saw of many in that country:

The government is oppressive. One person told me there if the people were allowed to have guns, there would be a revolt tomorrow.

I still remember the events that unfolded in Tianamen Square in 1989. A student uprising demanding reform resulted in around 300 deaths, further marginilzing the people. Removing what power they tried to gain.

I've walked Tianamen on two separate occasions. That event dominated my thoughts each time.

Police patrolling Tianamen


The Aged People in Other Countries

We are fortunate to have a social security system in the USA. Other countries have similar systems, but the majority do not.

As a result, there is a culture shift I've noticed. Here aged parents still feel a responsibility to their grown children. Many feel an obligation to leave an inheritance behind to help them.

It's the opposite in most of the Asian countries I've visited. Most of the people are engaged in manual work such as farming or fishing. This can be demanding. As the people age they physically become unable to perform the work. As a result they have no means to earn income and no government program to fall back on.

The responsibility falls to the family. More specifically, the children feel an obligation to care for their parents. Often at the expense of their education as they must drop out of school.

This leaves the aged population feeling less significant. Another marginilzed group. A feeling of hopelessness and depression as they feel a burden on their children.



Of course poverty is the number one reason people feel marginalized. Without looking at the official statistics, I will inform of my experience visiting foreign countries. I saw the deepest poverty in India and the Philippines. Although Bangladesh is worse I've never visited there.

But poverty is relative. One time when visiting India near the Bangladesh border I was caught in a protest blocking the road. The poor people in this remote area of India were protesting against the influx of Bangladesh refugees coming into India. Seems even the poor people further marginalize the poorer.

I'm not sure there is anything more disenfranchising than poverty. People are left feeling insignificant and subjective to those with money and power

When traveling into remote Philippine villages I saw how the people acted. In one home they had no furniture but they would not allow me to sit on the floor. They borrowed a plastic resin chair from a neighbor for me to sit. I know it was an act of courtesy but more than that they sincerely feel people with money or status are better than they are. It's a learned behavior. A marginilzed people.


The Orphans

In the USA we no longer have orphanages. Instead we have a Foster Care Program. As a former Guardian ad Litem, I'm aware of the system. In every case I was involved, the children were put into the system because the father was gone and the mother on drugs. But, if I can use the term, we are fortunate to be a country where only about one tenth of a percent of the population are in this care.

In India the orphan percent of population is 40 times that of the USA standing at a whopping 4% of the population. The reason is much different there than in the USA. In India it's mostly a matter of poverty. Parents cannot afford to care for the child.

Now poverty is a marginilzing situation in itself. But there are the marginilzed within the margins: the orphans. How much more can one feel cast out than to be dismissed by their own parents?

I've visited the orphans in India. I've talked to the orphans. I've seen how they try to get noticed in a sea of faces. Many were too young to feel marginalized but others know it. It can be truly heartbreaking at times.

Sea of orphans


The Indigent

Those who have infirmities can feel outcasted, especially overseas. This is an example where people can be further discriminated against within the marginalized group.

This young man I've shown before. He was crippled since birth and abandoned by his parents. But, as much as the other children tried to include him, I could tell he felt like an outsider.


Skin Color

The color of your skin is a universal factor in a marginilzing world. It's well documented in this country, but it's everywhere.

Even within the darker colored countries, the degrees matter. If you go to Thailand you'll find the true city residents (Bangkok), to be a lighter color than the village people. That's because the villagers are farmers and fishermen with much sun exposure. They are aware of the differences and darker colored people are associated with farmers, the poorer people of society.

Many take measures to protect themselves by using umbrellas when in the sun. Very few wear shorts and most wear long sleeve shirts in scorching heat. It's done to preserve a lighter skin.

When it comes to skin color, within the marginalized people it is not all black and white. There are degrees even within the marginalized group.


I'm sure I'm missing other groups of people who have become marginalized in this world. These are the main ones that I came across in my travels. I just try to do my best not to contribute to this world marginalization.

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