Representing Minorities for a Better Society
Representing Minorities for a Better Society
  • reporter Kim Min-gyu
  • 승인 2021.02.27 23:16
  • 댓글 0
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▲First African and Asian American female Vice President, Kamala Harris / The Boston Globe
▲First African and Asian American female Vice President, Kamala Harris / The Boston Globe



There was an increase in the number of politicians from minority groups in 2020: last year’s U.S. presidential election resulted in the first African and Asian American female Vice President, Kamala Harris, and the first openly gay secretary, Pete Buttigieg. Also, New Zealand appointed Nanaia Mahuta as its first indigenous female foreign minister. The media, alongside politics, have long tried to appeal its appropriate representation of minorities to the public. Research conducted by UCLA has shown heartening results that from the total cast in the 145 films from 2019, women had 44.1% of lead acting roles, an increase from 41.0% in 2018, and people of color secured 27.6% of leading roles, more than the 26.6% in 2018.
The word “minority” is used to indicate a group of people whose characteristics—like race, religion, and sexuality—are different from the numerical majority’s. However, in modern sociology, the meaning of the minority group excludes the numerical factor. Sociologist Louis Wirth defined a minority group as “any group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.” For example, in South Africa, the numerical majority of black inhabitants were considered minority groups or subordinate groups as they were exploited and oppressed by the white numerical minority.
The positive influence of minority representation is becoming more important as society diversifies. The visibility of minorities has a simple yet powerful effect of validating minorities as equal human beings. As a society, a positive portrayal of such can foster an atmosphere where people are more aware of social diversity. Also, the minority representation in the leadership of an organization can contribute to important decision-making of the society on behalf of minorities. Politicians from minority groups tend to take part in legislation in favor of minorities that can help  solve problems that they face.
Representation of minority groups is achieved in various ways. Media texts hold the power to shape the audience’s knowledge and understanding of the society, including the perception and stereotypes of minority groups. Research has shown that both representation and misrepresentation in the media act as a powerful social force of how people view subordinate groups. Furthermore, minority leaders, such as politicians or CEOs, can act as role models for minorities. The electoral system utilizes various methods to enhance the representation of minorities in the political landscape. Reserved seats, a well-known electoral rule adopted by many countries, ensures the representation of specific minority groups in the legislature. For example, New Zealand, by its Maori Representation Act in 1867, has dedicated seats for Māori people. Also, some events specifically aim to promote the representation of minority groups. The Paralympic Games is a positive example of how minority groups, in this case, people with disabilities, can be represented and empowered.
Although minority representation is crucial and there is still much work to be done, how representation is delivered is a sensitive issue. Some actions intended to encourage minority representation can be or be seen as discrimination towards the dominant group. However, representation and empowerment of minorities are crucial in eradicating or easing social inequality as it is a stepping stone to such goals. It is every society’s important mission to carry out an appropriate representation of its minorities without further creating division within itself.

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