Editors’ Introduction

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Othering & Belonging: Expanding the Circle of Human Concern. We are delighted you are here and hope the insights and information you find here will usefully inform your thinking and work.

This new publication is produced by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California at Berkeley. Our vision is to bring together researchers, community members, policy­makers, and communicators to identify and challenge the barriers to a just, inclusive, and sustainable society, and to catalyze transformative change.

This new forum is one expression of our vision. We believe building a world where we recognize and work to meet the needs of all people requires that we promote Belonging and impede Othering. The anchor piece of this first issue, by our Director john a. powell and Assistant Director Stephen Menendian, examines what we mean when we refer to Othering and Belonging. While Othering processes marginalize people on the basis of perceived group differences, Belonging confers the privileges of membership in a community, including the care and concern of other members. As powell has previously written, “Belonging means more than just being seen. Belonging entails having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of social and cultural structures. Belonging means having the right to contribute to, and make demands on, society and political institutions.”

Belonging means more than just being seen. Belonging entails having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of social and cultural structures. Belonging means having the right to contribute to, and make demands on, society and political institutions.

We hope this new forum will help establish a broad analytic framework that enables us all to better understand and more effectively challenge Othering as it shapes our personal and social real­ities. We also hope this publication will help break down boundaries between academic research, policy analysis, and engaged practice, and promote more robust collaboration among them.

Our editorial selections in Othering & Belonging will be guided by these objectives. Each issue will encompass a wide range of contributions, including theoretical essays, cutting-edge research, critical reflections, interviews, short documentary films, and artwork. By inviting contributions from people working in the worlds of policy, philanthropy, business, higher education, community activism, and the arts, we hope to transcend barriers and contribute to collective learning. We believe this commitment to inclusiveness grants us the best opportunity to generate new insights into the dynamics of Othering and new possibilities for Belonging.

This inaugural issue presents a mix of conceptual and applied work. We start with “The Problem of Othering,” which authors john a. powell and Stephen Menendian argue is “the problem of the twenty-first century.” They make the case that an Othering framework illuminates a common set of dynamics that undergird group marginalization and inequality, and also begin to sketch promising pathways toward Belonging.

In “Racism and the Narrative of Biological Inevitability,” Rodolfo Mendo­za-Denton and Amanda Danielle Perez examine one subtle but powerful mechanism through which Othering occurs: “implicit social cognition” or “implicit bias.” Implicit bias has drawn a great deal of attention inside and outside the world of racial-justice research and advocacy, along with wide­spread supposition that implicit racial bias, in particular, might be an unhappy and inevitable part of our evolutionary heritage. Mendoza-Denton and Perez draw on recent breakthroughs in neuroscience to argue that unconscious bias and racism might not be nearly as immutable as many of us fear.

Lawrence Rosenthal and Ilaria Giglioli offer analyses of sociopolitical Othering in the contemporary United States and Europe, respectively. With the 2016 Republican presidential primary season as his point of departure, Rosenthal traces evolving tensions between Tea Party populism and the Republican establishment and its uneasy-at-best resolution in the presiden­tial campaign of Donald Trump (“Trump, the Tea Party, the Republicans, and the Other”).

In “Migration, Austerity, and Crisis at the Periphery of Europe,” Giglioli’s concern is the dramatic increase in poverty, inequality, and xenophobia in Europe in recent years, especially in southern Europe, and their relationship to national and international policies propelled by the politics of austerity. Her work suggests that these policies, responses to the Eurozone and refugee crises, reflect and reinscribe lines of marginal­ization and exclusion. Taken together, they raise the crucial question: Who “belongs” in Europe?

From reflections on Othering at national and international scales, we move to “Reflections on Policing: Organizers in Five Communities Speak Out,” an interview featuring the voices of leading advocates from the Black Lives Matter, Native Lives Matter, LGBTQ, immigrant, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. These organizers and practitioners speak in heartfelt ways about the stakes involved in their work, the overlaps and particularities of their communities’ concerns and efforts, and the changes they want to see.

Daisy Rockwell’sPrecarious Lives” offers a different angle on the crisis of policing in communities of color in the United States. Rockwell’s focus is on women of color whose encounters with police officers proved fatal. Her portraits of these women rely not on mugshots, so often the only way the public sees the victims of police violence, but on photos that “showed them the way they wished to be seen.

We close out Issue One with Villy Wang’sTake a Look at Ourselves,” where we hear directly from young people from low-opportunity neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay area, their words and perspectives amplified by means of powerful, digitally mediated storytelling. This piece features a music video produced by a multiracial cast of teens about the media’s role in perpetuating a wide range of harmful stereotypes about Black, Muslim, Latinx, and LGTBQ people.

Our hope is that these contributions, and those to follow in future issues, will cast new light on the roots and dynamics of Othering as it manifests in the lives of individuals and families, neighborhoods and institutions, societies and the world, and that it will help spur a wave of fresh insights into how Othering and Belonging practices play out across different areas of life and a wide variety of human differences with a range of crucial consequences.

Finally, we close with gratitude. Gratitude to all the contributors of this inaugural issue, whose work builds such a strong foundation for this publication. Gratitude to all our funders, whose generous support of our shared goals enables us to advance our mission of doing transformative work. Gratitude to the hundreds of attendees, speakers, and performers who came together for our first Othering & Belonging conference in the spring of 2015, whose momentum from that gathering greatly propelled this framework forward (we hope to see all of you at our next conference in 2017). Gratitude to our many partners and staff, who not only collaborate and work alongside us, but who challenge and inspire us to help bring into being a more just and equitable world. And finally, deepest gratitude to you, our reader, for your interest in this new endeavor. We look forward to engaging with you and working together in building a network of diverse actors rooted in a common framework for realizing a fair and inclusive society. 

Yours in Belonging,

Andrew Grant-Thomas, Editor-in-chief
Rachelle Galloway-Popotas, Stephen Menendian, and Michael Omi, Editors