In the April issue of the New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz entertains the concept of invisibility. She begins by explaining the allure of going unnoticed as the power to do as we wish with no judgement. At one point in our lives, we have all done something we did not want public. The phrase “no one can know” pops into our mind whenever we recollect the memory and we know that if, and when our secret becomes public, it will be the end of us and all that we have built our status upon. The article then proceeds to counter its own allure by mapping the massive downsides to going unnoticed. For example, no one wants to be invisible in their topic of passion, they want their ideas to be heard and entertained with hopes of positive or even negative manipulation. With Schulz’s entertainment in mind, one can consider the concept of invisibility with the dynamics of human rights around the world today.
Globally, perceived minority groups have been isolated by the majority, treated as invisible and uninfluential parts of society. Their grievances remain disregarded to a large part, and their needs go unmet. Outreach to them is only in times of desperation (ie. elections) and that with illusion of support. They are constantly asked to sacrifice their identities for the greater good, as there always exist agendas with a higher priority. You might say, well, what about movements such that of the racial equality movement in the United States, which eventually allowed for the acceptance of an African American president? In return, I would argue that the racial equality movement remains challenged as the youth like Michael Brown are shot based on stereotypes of color. The struggle for equality is dormant, until the powers that be are threatened, then to which measures of impartiality are reexamined. It seems as though pro-minority change only comes after a tragedy and act of violence.
In her article, Schulz points to the danger of “invisibility”, the endless chaos that arises due to lack of public constraints. Scrutinizing the cycle of mass violence and social uprising by the minorities, the dangers of an invisible minority can be seen. To begin, one must keep in mind John Burton’s Human Needs theory, in which violence is inevitable when basic needs are not met. By not recognizing their role or even existence in society, the needs for recognition are not confronted. When they are asked to conform to the majority, their identity is questioned. When they are ridiculed for their ideologies, their security is challenged. At one point, masses will grow tired of abuse. Tensions will rise, and they will rise in dissent. While the doctrine of some religions, such as Shia Islam are that of peace, mass demonstration and social unrest are highly likely forms of protest. In the case of the Arab Spring, it only took the burning of a sole fruit vendor in Tunisia to cause chaos in a whole region. As they are “invisible” by everyone else, minorities have to power to scheme and develop without the constraints of public control. Their uprising remains mostly unnoticed until they act with the utmost potential.
Hence, in order to keep peace and allow for complete control, understanding and managing minority rights is detrimental. Recognition and dialogue with groups of masses regardless of their race, ethnicity, and origin allows for not only satisfaction of their needs, but also the proceeding of national and international agendas. With her evaluation of “Invisibility”, Kathryn Schulz not only entertains her readers with mystical superpowers, but also highlights a key understanding in the reduction of social conflict in societies all over the world.