Aren’t We All “Others”?

“Me, The ‘Other’” is a film about a diverse group of 12 college students in one county. Students from University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College, with seemingly nothing in common all share the fact that they consider themselves the “other.”

Directed by Shidan Majidi and Shahrzad Mirafzali, the documentary is made of 10 life stories of people’s journey to find themselves. From a University of Michigan Asian American gymnast, to a 64-year-old transgender Eastern Michigan student, “Me, The ‘Other’” talks about the lack of diversity and need of acceptance in Washtenaw County.

University of Michigan junior Taylor Brooks speaks about how within Ann Arbor and on the U of M campus, there are few people that look like her. “The black community, which makes up 4 percent of the student body, I’m a big part of,” Brooks said. “We’re pretty close; skin color lightness and associations through socio-economic differences creates interesting dynamics, but we do stick together pretty much.”

Within the 4 percent of African Americans on U of M’s campus, there is division based on skin color — now imagine the other 96 percent.

Stereotypes, arguably the underlying cause of the -isms and -phobia (racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, etc.), was something that the film addressed as a whole. Samuel Su, a U of M gymnast, has felt judged his whole life.

“The stereotype of Asians only being good at math and not in sports still exists today,” Su said. “As I don’t fall into this stereotype, I find myself being looked down upon and questioned by the Asian community, who call me an  ‘Asian disgrace’ or question; ‘What kind of Asian are you?!’”

Su says that society tries to desexualize and demasculinize Asian males. They try to fit all asians into a square box of good grades, rice, and karate. “I’m a gymnast, and majoring in Screen Arts and Culture in the hopes to change this portrayal of Asians,” Su said. “I have felt oppression from those in the Asian community for being ‘the other’.”

AJ Wickham, an openly gay, Christian man with Asperger’s spoke about how he has been confused about who he truly is his entire life. He said he never felt truly cared for or loved until he met his partner Kit Jaspering, who was also featured in the film.

“It is my desire to show that the things some people might describe as ‘other’ aren’t actually so far removed from what they consider ‘normal’. ” Wickham said.

Throughout the film, throughout this review and throughout life, people are quick to put labels on people. The movie’s theme was about not fitting into a label, and feeling like you were in the “other” category. The documentary was about people making and breaking labels. But, “other” is a label too. Not one that most people want to have, but a label nonetheless.