Is dehumanization always violent? by Molly Reeves

Although dehumanization is normally seen through violent acts, violence is not the only way people are dehumanized. Dehumanization is caused when someone or a group of people treat another person or group less than human. Many people would say that to treat someone less than human they would have to be physically abused, but verbal abuse and segregation from a community can have the same dehumanization effect. There have been many instances of verbal abuse and segregation where people have been made to feel less than human through nonviolent measures.
Dehumanization through nonviolent acts can be seen throughout history.  For example, back during the 1880s to the 1950s, the Jim Crow Laws segregated African Americans from everyone else in the schools, bathrooms, and businesses. It was illegal in some states back then for a man of color to even use the same watering fountain as everyone else. Penalty for breaking that law could be anywhere from a huge fine to an extended period in jail. Also how in some states all African Americans had to sit in the back of a bus that had white people on it was an example of the segregation back then. All of these “separate but equal” laws were just a way to dehumanize the African American Community. Most of the time violence was never use to separate them. They were dehumanized through acts of verbal abuse by calling them names and separating them from the rest of the country, making them feel less than everyone else.
Another example of dehumanization would be if someone is being cyberbullied. In the U.S., one out of every three people have been cyberbullied. Cyberbullies use the anonymity of the internet to hide who they are while making fun of other people and to make them feel badly about how they look or what they do. Teenagers that are considered weird or different at school can be made into an outcast by their peers and therefore become dehumanized. Because of the way they were dehumanized and cut off from everyone else, 20% of cyber bullied victims think about taking their own lives. Even though violence is normally connected to dehumanization, verbal abuse can still make someone feel less than human.

 

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