“Stigma” is a simple two-syllable word, yet a powerful expression that conjures up a variety of feelings for many people based on an array of social factors. We all have the tendency to sit on our high horses and proclaim how progressive and civilized we’ve become. However, the reality is that we experience the burden of stigma in the United States in both our public and private lives every day.
Dr. Pernessa Seele teaches readers that with practical stigma management, beginning with exposing the problems, we can transform the public conversation to be guided by acceptance and reserving our negative judgments. If we are honest and committed to exposing the problems, each of us can vividly see how we privately mark people who are and have been incarnated, those addicted to drugs, people who live in low income neighborhoods, same gender loving people, as well as individuals suffering from certain diseases. It is in these conversations that we can educate ourselves and engage with others we have stigmatized in the past, ultimately leading us to change our language from a negative outlook to that of inclusion and mending social divides.
Supported by her wealth of knowledge and decades of experience, Dr. Seele imagines a world that few people can. She envisions that in eliminating stigmas about people different from us, we can change representations in the media, laws and policies targeting stigmatized groups, and set an example for future generations.
About the Author:
Pernessa C. Seele is the founder and CEO of the Balm in Gilead, Inc., a not-for-profit organization celebrating three decades of providing technical training and services that strengthen the capacity of faith institutions in the United States and Africa to promote health education, disease management, and services that contribute to the elimination of human suffering. Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People. Essence magazine, in its 35th-anniversary edition, selected her as one of the 35 Most Beautiful and Remarkable Women in the World. Ebony magazine named her one of its Power 150. And she was selected by Women’s eNews as one of its 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.