To start off with, we are all carrying stigma against others. There is out and out stigma, where someone is fully aware of their stigma. There is also something just as damaging, which is what I called invisible stigma, where the person is unaware of their stigma because their views are the norm within the culture of organisation in which they find themselves.
One way to test for stigma is what I’ve coined as The Stigma Test. It works by switching the object of a phrase to see if it is indeed bigoted.
For example somebody tweeted the other day something about ‘Whites cause all the problems in the world’ This tweet was unchallenged by others. When I challenged it, a white person defended the tweeter in question! Is the phrase bigoted? Let’s see how offensive it reads when we change the object:
- ‘Blacks cause all the problems in the world’
- ‘Gays cause all the problems in the world’
- ‘Women cause all the problems in the world’
- ‘Men cause all the problems in the world’
All these phrases are equally bigoted, but the fact some feel more offensive than others, proves that we aren’t good at seeing if something is bigoted. Most people might feel that 1. and 2. are particularly offensive, but that 4. isn’t! Remember these phrases are all just as bigoted as each other in real-terms.
So next time you read a comment and you are interested to see if it is bigoted, try switching the object out with other alternatives like above, it will help you rise above what I call Invisible Bigotry / Stigma.