The Effect That The Word “Minority” Has In Our Society


Let’s talk about the word “minority.” The way it has been used negatively in social media outlets has led to debates on whether or not the word is problematic.

It may be easy to think that the word is entirely problematic; let’s look at the purpose it has when referring to the population.

“Minority is a word that is used to describe those that are not part of a majority [population],” said former (2018-2019) Sunrise Mountain student body president Blanca Peña who is now President of UNLV iGNiTE, Vice President of UNLV SOL, and a Greenspun College of Urban Affairs Senator for UNLV CSUN Student Government.

A minority is any ethnic or cultural group that makes up the smaller portion of the general population. The word does not carry any bias when it’s used in this case exclusively. Emphasis on the “exclusively.”

“It is mostly used to refer to a group of something that is small in size,” said senior Isabel Villalobos. “It could often be used the wrong way and come off offensive toward some people; but if you’re using it correctly, I don’t believe the word is problematic.”

In technical terms, the word “minority” is used to refer to part of the general population as well as when referring to the smaller portion of something bigger without bias.

“The word minority by itself is not problematic,” said Peña. “Certain associations about the word are though. Minority is a word used to describe those that are not a part of a majority, I see nothing problematic about that. As soon as people start using the word to discriminate or offend, that’s when it becomes a problem.”

Nowadays, the word “minority” is used in an inappropriate and negative manner by media outlets and other social networks.

“Because the media has the power to cause such an astronomical impact and uproar on the population,” said Peña, “using words in a derogatory manner will only increase the divide between the people and further push specific stereotypes. What this does to the ethnic groups that are referred to as minorities is they start to face more prejudice and discrimination in the outside world due to biases rooted from the mainstream media and culture.”

As the use of the word became more common in mainstream media outlets, it started to gain bias which caused it to gain some heavy, negative baggage.

It began to be taken out of context to the point where the feelings associated with it are distorted from the initial purpose of the word.

“The [negative] effect of it could cause certain ethnic groups to feel belittled or disliked,” said Villalobos. “It makes them feel as if they aren’t accepted, feel different, or feel like they don’t fit in with the rest.”

The bias that the word carries has caused the issues that minority groups face to be belittled, dismissed, or normalized. That is the biggest issue with the way the word “minority” is used.  In no way, shape, or form should the problems that minorities face become normalized.

The word “minority” should never be used in a negative and derogatory context toward ethnic groups that are referred to as minorities since that is not what the word is intended for. The meaning that it’s intended to have is to refer to the smaller part of a general population without bias.

What can be done to solve this issue?

People can educate themselves on how to use the term properly and call out those who continue to use it with a negative connotation.

“Research the positive side of the minority groups to provide both sides to show how the media can be one sided, in this case negative,” said AP Human Geography teacher Elizabeth Smith.

Once the media begins to clean up the reputation of the word “minority,” more people will begin to see the positive sides of every single minority group.

“People on social media portray the word ‘minorities’ negatively by using it in a way to only target a certain group of people,” said Villalobos.

Every culture is different, and that in itself is beautiful. Instead of trying to continually knock down minority groups, celebrate and uplift those beautiful differences that make each group distinct.

“In addition, being referred to as a minority isn’t a bad thing,” said Peña. “If you’re a part of a minority group, own it! You’re awesome, you’re different, you’re strong! There is nothing wrong with being a minority at all. Don’t let categorical words define who you are but instead let it be the root of the person you have flourished into. Just because a word carries a stigma does not mean that it’s harmful, it simply means it’s powerful. I give props to anybody else who is a part of the numerous minority groups and hope that one day we will receive the representation we deserve.”