Feelings of Inferiority Can Stem from How Society Treats the Disadvantaged

By Isaiah Reese

Elm Staff Writer

For college students, the transition from their  hometown to a campus setting is challenging. Everyone arrives on campus, minds crowded with their own internal issues, masking their insecurities with excitement. However, most of them are frightened. As the college journey commences, students are faced with an abundant amount of stress and self-indulging questions.

The challenge of silencing those annoying voices in our heads that are constantly condemning us, or making us over-analyze the world around us, can be difficult. Even though we are all rattled with those mind-numbing thoughts once arriving at college, does that mean that the cause of this stress is the same for everybody?

In the case of those students who were raised in environments that are either of a low socioeconomic status, are racially diverse, or that accommodate non-American traditions, they may have to ask themselves a set of different questions. There is no doubt if you were socialized in an environment unlike Washington College, there is a strong chance you will be faced with immediate culture shock.

Every individual should be looking deep within themselves to find the root cause of any feeling of a lack of confidence, anxiety, depression, and any other energy-draining thought or emotion they may be grappling with. As a society, we must aim to answer the question of whether or not the transition to Washington College is the same for all students.

The immediate answer seems to be that it isn’t. Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, author of the non-fiction book “The Isis Papers,” a mentally stimulating read that I recommend, speaks on a term known as inferiorization. “Inferiorization is the conscious, deliberate and systematic process utilized specifically by a racist social system, as conducted through all of its major and minor institutions.” Dr. Welsing’s point is that this process is specifically appointed by the functioning of a racist and discriminatory system, and presses minorities and other disadvantaged groups to internalize the feeling that they don’t measure up to the rest of society.

WC primarily accommodates students stemming from upper class backgrounds. Students coming from backgrounds of a lower class may not be able to meet all their academics needs such as paying for books on their own, and may feel a sense of inadequacy from playing catch up with their counterparts. That is an example of how a system such as WC leads people to feel that they are at a disadvantage, and eventually leads them to suffering from an inferiority complex.

In regards to Dr. Welsing’s point and the process of inferiorization, as an African-American male, I have suffered from depression, anxiety, and survivor’s guilt. Not having experienced these emotions before coming to college, I felt as though I should research why I began to feel this way. This need for a revelation lead me to Dr. Welsing’s book. In no way, shape, or form am I saying that an inferiority complex is the definitive cause of those set of emotions, for myself or anyone else for that matter. My goal is to encourage others to find the root of their own emotional struggles, and to bring light to this process known as inferiorization as a possible explanation.     

Others may argue that the concerns faced by students who come from less fortunate backgrounds are the same concerns faced by all students, regardless of racial, class, or gender conflictions. Some may say that all college students suffer from the same feeling of being unappreciated in a cultural setting such as WC, or any other college campus.

This perspective cripples one’s ability to connect and to fully understand what an individual outside of their ilk may be experiencing.

Although we all face various complicated issues within the conundrum known as our minds, those who arise from the trappings of poverty — or any state of being that elicits feelings of disadvantage — are working with a different feeling from most traditional WC students. Indeed, we all face our own internal issues, especially once we come to college. However, these challenging questions we have to answer are different based on our particular background.

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