Final Essay

 

Race at UNE is predominantly white. Most students that are people of color play sports here and for the ones that do play I ask them why they truly chose UNE and they say something along the lines of “Well, I had offers from other schools that were not as good of a school as UNE so I came here.” I then I asked would you have even looked at UNE if you weren’t playing a sport here and almost every answer was a no. A lot of people of color wouldn’t even have looked here if it wasn’t for sports. I talk with my roommate who is black, and he always is talking about how he misses all of his boys back home because he can’t relate to a lot of the people here. Now why is it like that? Why is UNE not an attractive place for people of color? An easy answer to this question is that UNE is in one the whitest states in America and Biddeford having a black population less than 3% make it hard for a person of color to fit in. For the most part UNE is a very accepting place but for some individuals mostly black students don’t feel welcomed because they look around and they don’t see people that look like them. It isn’t anything that anyone has said or done to them they don’t see people like them. For some black students they don’t get a haircut in Maine because they can’t find a place that “knows black hair”. And if they do find a place they play 25-30 bucks for one when they could go home and get one for 15. Being on the football team and having a black roommate has given a perspective into black culture that I have never seen before being from Vermont. I had close black friends in Vermont, but it was different. My friend’s home that are black families have lived there for a few generations and they do stuff differently. Much more like a stereotypical white family.

Students of color at UNE have to talk “white” not “black”. I ask them if they felt pressure to fit in with the rest of the student by the way they talk and most of them said yes. I asked them why they felt the pressure and it was because it was the way everyone else talked. When I’m hanging black kids accents, slang, Ebonics start to come out because they are comfortable with everyone there but once a few white people come over they talk differently with them then with the black kids. I only started noticing this when in class we started reading Kenji Yoshino. Yoshino is a gay Asian American lawyer who introduced this concept of “covering”. Covering is explained best with concepts of True Self and False Self introduced by D.W. Winnicott. True Self is, “the self that gives the individual the feeling of being real” (Yoshino 482). This is basically the person who you really are and is “associated with human spontaneity and authenticity (Yoshino 482). The false self is the self that “gives the individual a sense of being unreal, a sense of futility. It mediates the relationship between the true self” (Yoshino 482). This means that the false self protects the true self when the true self is threatened. And covering is the process that the false self showing rather than the true self when the true self is in danger.

Almost a deeper question about why at UNE feel like they need to cover their true self is why do they feel like it is in danger? I asked around why people of color felt the urge to cover up who they are, and they said it’s not they need to now it just happens when they are around white people. When I heard this I thought of Charles Duhigg’s concept we learn in class “social habits.” (Duhigg 87)

We were introduced this concept by Charles Duhigg who is a Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist and non-fiction author. He wrote about how civil rights movements became into megachurches in the sense that the movements brought together communities of thousands to unite around something. What Duhigg means by social habits is that they are “the behaviors that occur unthinkingly, across dozen or hundreds or thousands of people which are often hard to see as they emerge, but which contain a power that can change the world.” (Duhigg 87). An example of a social habit is picking up dogs poop or recycling. How can we how can we create new social habits at UNE to make people of color feel welcome? Well we already have clubs like the Black Student Union, Cultural Council, and Muslim Students Association but we can do more. We can bring people like Angela Davis or other significant people in the civil rights movements. We can also have sports teams like the Men’s Basketball team and Football team that hold a bulk of diversity at UNE to come forward to open up a discussion about how they perceive race and how race affects their lives here at UNE and at home. I believe once the conversation is opened up between sports teams because we are a large influence on the student body we can change some of the social habits that people have. Another concept introduced by Duhigg is “strong ties”(Duhigg 89) and “weak ties”(Duhigg 91). According to Duhigg, strong ties are the people you talk to everyday or people that you are close to like family and weak ties are the people that know you, more of acquaintances.

Duhigg uses the example of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how Rosa Parks used her strong ties to start the boycott and then used her weak ties to keep it going. If social change were to happen to end racism or racist tendencies in my opinion sadly we would need to have another Michael Brown situation or an Eric Garner situation but instead of it being between the police and people of color it would have to be between white and black. We saw a little of this in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia at the Unite the Right rally where a man drove into a crowd of protesters that were protesting the rally killing a white woman. If we think about it now if the woman was black and had a lot of strong ties and a lot of weak ties the it would make it very easy for people to condemn that act of racism and hate.  Even though we can condemn this action already it would pretty easy for people to rally behind that. In kind of a weird sense it was less of an effect on society because a white person not a black. I say this because a white person could get shot by police and most people just think “Oh well” and if a black person gets shot by police it fires up a lot people to protest police brutality. If we as a society were to protest something like racism, it’s pretty hard because it isn’t a policy that can be changed by government it is just a way of thinking. We can only protest racist actions. Now an issue comes up if we can’t protest racism is how do we end racism. One hypothetically some people think of when they think of the end of racism is that it will end when everyone will have the same skin tone. Now hypothetically would this be the end of racism? Journalist Steve Olson disagrees that that scenario will be the end of racism.

Steve Olson wrote an article about how Hawaii is one of the most racially, ethnically, culturally diverse places in the world. He gives examples of conflicts among people that are physically indistinguishable from each other. Some examples were the Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims and Hindus, and the Albanians and Serbs and they are all physically indistinguishable for an outsider. Olson introduces a concept called “ethnic thinking” (Olson 252). Ethnic thinking has to parts the first is it is the “‘racialization’ of culture—the tendency to think of another people as not just culturally different but genetically distinct” (Olson 252). This means it that people think that culture is genetically past down from your ancestor. This means that what I wear, my food I eat, the things that I do are all predetermined by my genetics. The second is the “elevation of one’s own ancestry” (Olson 253). This means it is preached by the people that think this way that their ancestry is pure or 100% this race or ethnicity. Olson uses the Nazis as an example because the Jews that they killed were white but even if they themselves didn’t practice Judaism, but their grandparents were Jewish they were automatically Jewish and had Jewish ideology and they needed to be eliminated. Ethnic thinking has brought a lot of people together but also has pushed a lot of people apart. Olson talks about how Hawaii holds a lot of prejudice against a lot of different ethnicity’s there. Yes, having parents from two different races or ethnicity’s is a sign of tolerance but we still see stereotypes there. In Hawaii we can see progress being made but obviously prejudice still exists.

How do we end racism? In my opinion is that we need to change how we perceive race. Changing our perception means instead of using race as a way to define who someone is personally just let it just be a physical characteristic. This means eliminating stereotypes and misconceptions about peoples race and ethnicity. This means we will need to change the social habit of using stereotypes to define someone based of their skin color or where they are from.

Sadly, the end to racism won’t come soon. Changing social habits takes a lot of time, a lot of people, and for something significant to happen to push for that societal change. It may not be in my life time we will see the end to racism and it might not be in my kid’s life time either. For all I know it could be many generations before we see the end of racism, but we can still take steps toward the end to make it a better place for future generations to never see hate and acts of racism.

 

 

 

Work Cited

Yoshino, Kenji. “The New Civil Rights.” Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. Third Edition. Barclay Barrios.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.  478-488.  Print.

Duhigg, Charles. “Civil Rights to Megachurches.” Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. Third Edition. Barclay Barrios.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.  478-488.  Print.

Olson, Steve. “The End of Race: Hawaii and the Mixing of Peoples.” Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers. Third Edition. Barclay Barrios.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.  478-488.  Print.

 

 

HW 4/7/19

Today we can firmly say that today racism still exists in the united states. But is it the same as it was 50 years ago? Was it the same as 100 years ago? What about 200 years ago? Over the course of the United States history racism has evolved from slavery to Jim Crow to injustice. In the United States we have pride in saying that everyone has an equal opportunity to get to the “American Dream”. In America we say hard work and persistence and you will be able to do anything and achieve anything you want. But is that really the case? We can easily point out times in history that people weren’t given equal opportunity to achieve the “American Dream”. These people were minority groups that were oppressed were oppressed by white people. Now white people are saying that now it isn’t blacks or other minority groups it is them. The middle-class white person. Now why are they saying this. There has to be a reason or are they just making it up. Why is the middle-class white class saying it is them that are the victims?

Arlie Russell Hochschild investigated into what these people are saying and why they are saying. Arlie spent five years in south west Louisiana where she met a lot of people and interviewed them about politics and everything in between. A woman named Sharon that Arlie interviewed said “I pay $9,000 every year and we get nothing for it.” This is a problem for a lot of Americans. And like a lot of Americans she “felt that the federal government—especially under President Obama—was bringing down the hardworking rich and struggling middle while lifting the idle poor.” In this article Sharon shared a story about a boy around 11 about his future plans and he said, “I’m just going to get a [disability] check, like my mama.” This brings up a lot of questions about how it got this bad. The little motivation of these communities that are mostly white. The people in these communities rely heavily on the middle class of the United States and we can see that people abuse the system in order basically to live. The bluntest way and simplest way to put it the government is paying someone to breath. Someone like Sharon that worked hard to where she is financially, feels used and she doesn’t want to pay for people that have made up disabilities to just take up space. These people are also taking away from people that have actual disabilities that can’t work.

Arlie interviewed a former assistant fire chief and his wife, and they said when they we working they “were making such low pay that we could have been on food stamps every month and other welfare stuff.” These were hard working Americans that were working but could have been on food stamps and getting a welfare check in the mail. I can see why these people are getting fed up with trying to achieve the “American Dream”.

In class 3/18/19

The thing I need to work on is posting my work on time. For whatever reason this semester I do the most work but when I finish it I don’t post it.  I think a good plan for remembering to post it is writing myself a reminder on top of the document to give myself a cue to remember. When I do the work and post it I think I do a really good job. I just have trouble finding motivation finding quotes then writing them down in a file. For me doing that I don’t find it helpful it actually confuses me in the process. I find it much easier to underline a quote that is relevant in the reading and then finding it. When I write its almost is a manic episode of finding really good quotes then connecting them to other things.

HW due 2/27

Rose starts this segment of the article describing his early school years refuting the idea that “the classroom” could be an “oasis of possibilities” for a working class kid working their way out. He describes how often he mentally withdrew from the activities of the classroom. On page 19, he realizes “how consistently [he] defended [himself] against the lessons [he] couldn’t understand and the people and events of South LA that were too strange to view head on.” People usually defend themselves from something they feel threatened by. Read between the lines: What do you think Rose means by this? What was it he couldn’t understand, what was so strange about the people and events of South LA such that he felt the need to defend himself by not “viewing [them] head-on” (p. 18). This is a Text+Me question.

 

I think rose means that if he worked hard in class his opportunities in life could have opened up more doors from him. He talked about how when he started reading and found interest in books and not in class. I think that he found out later in life that if he had worked hard and paid attention in class he could have had better grades. He probably thinks that if he saw more hardworking people in the environment that he was in he probably would have had a better work ethic in school.

 

Re-read pp. 19-22 about the chemistry set and young Rose’s love of reading. What does this section say about how reading and exploration figured in to his boyhood sense of self and his sense of a future? Compare and contrast Rose’s feelings about reading to Coates’s and the future opened up for Rose to the future opened up for Coates.  This is a pull-it-together question.

 

Rose found himself indulging himself in books and becoming fascinated with space and SyFy type of books. And when he got the chemistry set from his parents he curiosity took off and was fascinated with how it worked. This exploration made him curious and that curiosity helped him become more thoughtful and his imagination took off. Rose had more of a childhood of reading and discovering who he was and wanted to be. Coates childhood had more of reading and discovering who his family was and how his identity became what it was.

 

In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that the “laws of school” were aimed at something vague and then goes on to reveal precisely what the laws of school for black boys and girls were for. What are the “laws” of Rose’s Catholic school? What are the laws aiming to teach? To what degree are they teaching similar things as the laws at the schools Coates attended? What’s different?

 

Coates when to a school with a lot of gangbangers and Rose went to a school with kids I would assume had some money to afford it and they were troublemakers but not to the extent that I could see that kids from Coates school were. Rose didn’t mention on kid was 16 dealt drugs and was rumored to be a pimp. Coates mentions kids that you stay away from because those kids will jump you.

HW due 2/25

  1. Pull together some material from the first four or five pages of the reading and describe Mike Rose’s parents’ immigration experience and adult working life. Then explain how Rose’s parents’ experience similar to and different from that of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s parents, aunts, and uncles?

Rose’s parents emigrated to the united states and were very poor, his mother had to drop out of school in the 7th grade to take care of her little brother and her father who lost his leg in a railway accident. His father was quite about his life but Rose knew that he was a salesman, a tailor, and a gambler and he also knew people in the mob. Rose’s uncles had done time in prison in Chicago.

  1. What should we make of Rose’s description on pp. 13-18 of his family house and the mixed-race, mixed-ethnicity South Los Angeles neighborhood he grew up in? Try to capture both Rose’s emotional feelings about the places he grew up and the objective dangers he very causally suggests he faced there. Compare Rose’s experiences of his home and neighborhood to Coates’s.

Rose talked a lot about the different people and saying that it wasn’t a violent place but a place with lots of drugs and older people with little motivation to pull themselves out of whatever situation they were in. He also had more diversity than Coates. Coates didn’t talk a lot about what the people looked like or who they were, he talked about what they meant to him and what they did.

  1. At the end of this long segment on his parents immigration and work experiences and his boyhood growing up in a mixed-race, mixed-ethnicity neighborhood in South Los Angeles, Rose writes that he “developed a picture of human existence that rendered it short and brutish or sad and aimless or long and quiet…. When, years later, I was introduced to humanistic psychologists…, with their visions of self actualization…., it all sounded like a glorious fairy tale, a magical account of a world full of possibility, full of hope and empowerment. Sinbad and Cinderella couldn’t have been more fanciful” (p. 18).

Rose saw lots of different kinds of people and he saw the good and the bad. And when he realized that he what he had the opportunity to get to the ultimate goal that is what he wanted to do. He didn’t want to be like the older people he saw that had no motivation and were bums on the street.

Integrating Ideas

In my essay I used ideas from Kwame Anthony Appiah and Kenji Yoshino. I used in total eight quotes and also gave my opinion on what I thought identity was and how it has affected me and others around me. Me personally I find it easy to quote people and give my own thoughts on the what the writer is saying. I contributed to the conversation and also gave background to who the writers were giving support to their claims. I introduced new ideas when I said something like it is in human nature to have identities and to categorize things and people and we can’t live without those identities. I shifted the direction of the conversation when I moved from Yoshino to Appiah. When was trying to make the shift from Yoshino to Appiah I found it difficult to make that transition short and I also wanted to incorporate my opinion of identity and my experiences. I talked about me being from Vermont and how there is a lot of diversity in political view but not racially. Overall, I wish I could have been shorter talking about my own experiences, but I think it was a good way to shift into Appiah’s piece.

Another thing that I was unsure about was using a block quote. two of my quotes were pretty long, I think they were four or five sentences or really long sentences that were five to six lines long. I probably could have used block quotes, but I don’t think I compromised that integrity of the paper. When explaining who the writers where I summarized the key concepts that they were focusing on. I also made a work cited giving credit to the authors that I got those ideas from. I would also explain the quote before and then summarize it after and give my opinion on it. I think I have made a tremendous leap from where I was at the beginning of the year to now in how I write and how I integrate my ideas with those of experts. I would give myself between a G and an EX because I think there are some things I can approve upon but for the most part I think I did a very good job at integrating ideas with others in my essay.

Identity Essay

Identity

In life we have identities that you might want to hide and some you might want to display and some that aren’t your true identity. At times in history people were shamed, given less rights, beaten, and murdered for those identities that were not the societal norm. For example, Jews in the 30s and 40s in Nazi Germany were the main targets of genocide for just being Jewish. Having that Jewish identity would have gotten them killed and a lot of Jews hid from the Nazis where ever they could to survive. It was difficult for Jews to hide because leading up to the genocide they were identified with an arm band with the Star of David and then with a number tattooed on the arm. This is only one example where someone would want to hide their identity others could be African Americans, woman and gays throughout history were subjected to public shaming were thought to be less than a human being. Even Asian Americans were subjected to these acts of racism and hate because of their identity. Kenji Yoshino is an Asian American that has experience racism and hate first hand. Yoshino is a law professor that has taught at Yale and New York University he also graduated from Oxford and Harvard.  He has written multiple articles about civil rights and identities. He is also an openly gay man.

In his writing about “New Civil Rights” he uses the vocabulary of True Self and False Self to create a new way of thinking about civil rights. He wants to move away from “focusing on the old-fashioned group-based identity politics.” Yoshino believes that the civil rights that we must focus on is what pulls us together and what pushes us apart. Yoshino references D. W. Winnicott who is a psychoanalyst and they say that “True Self and false self that usefully tracks the distinctions between that uncovered and covered selves. The True Self is the self that gives and individual the feeling of being real, which is ‘more than existing; it is finding a way to exist as oneself, and to relate to objects as one oneself, and to have self into which retreat for relaxation.’ The true self is associated with human spontaneity and authenticity.” (13) This True Self is basically who you really are and how you really feel about your identity for example if you are gay that is your True Self. On the other hand, you might not want to have that identity as gay and you making your identity as straight is your False Self. Yoshino explains that the false self “gives an individual a sense of unreal, a sense of futility. It mediates the relationship between the true self and the world.” (13)
People use these False Selves to cover their identities because of things that aren’t desirable like being killed. Now in the United States it is widely accepted for people to be black, gay, or transgender but just 40 years ago it was not OK to have any of those identities openly. W. D. Winnicott explains that when the true self does overcome the false self becomes a “polite and mannered social attitude”(15). I think of this as now false self is hiding and comes out to protect when there is a threat from society, governments, or communities. When society threatens identity of an individual or a group it takes the uniqueness from that society.

Having different people in communities is good for people to embrace different cultures and ways of thinking. I’m from Vermont and I joke that Vermont is the one place where you can find liberals and rednecks living in the same neighborhood at peace. Even though Vermont is not diverse racially we are very diverse in politics, sexual orientation and identity. This is why if you go to Burlington and walk around you will see “keep VT weird” shirts and bumper stickers all over the place. It’s weird for outsiders but its normal for the people that live there. As I have started to grow up I have noticed the differences in people’s race, gender, and sexual orientation. I see all of those people every day and I see how some people treat them differently because of the way they identify themselves. Me personally I have always looked at people for the values they hold not for what they look like. I personally don’t care what you think about politics or about me, I care about how you treat others and if you are a genuine person. Those are the identities people should judge people on. The thing that I think is difficult to find in these identities that people can display is discovering if it is their True Self or their False Self. For example, when you first meet someone, and they are super nice and seem interested in who you are. Then you start to get to know them a little more and that initial interaction is a whole different person than you remember meeting at first. That initial interaction is their False Self and as you get to know them a little more their True Self comes out and they are mean and rude and overall not a good person. But that is their identity and the interesting part about identities is that everyone has one, whether it is what they look like or what their name is it is who they are. The issue with having identities is that they can do one of two things: bring people together or push people away.

Identities in general can cause a lot of instances of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia and there is nothing we can do to stop having these identities that define us as humans because It is in human nature to categorize people and things. This is why we have names to things to identify what they are. We as humans can’t live without identities because it’s in our nature. But we can change the way we look at identity by being more accepting and caring of others. Martin Luther King in his I have dream speech he said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Until we stop using the color of people’s skin or religion as an identity, racism and hate will still exist. We can’t move forward until we stop using identities.  I discovered this idea of humans living with no identities from a philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah.

In a Vox article, Appiah is being interviewed by Sean Illing who is a writer for Vox, and Appiah implies in his new book that identities are a lie and we can’t live without them. When Illing ask Appiah what he means by identities are a lie Appiah explains that identities can bring people together, but they can also push people apart. “They do bring people together, as well as divide people, and I think that the lies, the untruths, are often a very important part of how they work. They’re important to how people are held together.” I can see how this happens, for example being on the football team I have 80 people I know pretty well since we all identify as football players it brings us together in a crowd but inside the football team we have the offense and the defense. In the camp on defense we would say FTO and on the offense they would say FTD. Those mean F the Offense and F the Defense and we were getting separated as a team because one person was on the offense and the other was on defense.  Kwame then explains that since life is so complex we need to have these identities to make sense of life and what is going on. “People — and when I say people I mean everybody — need these simple stories and labels to help them understand their place in the world. Life is complicated, and the social world is complicated, and identities simply all that for us. And yet these are often just constructs, artificial labels that we’ve created, and our attachment to them can blind us to that fact.” Identities are a lie because we as a human race made them up to make sense of the world around us. This is really interesting because if you think about not having a name for anything. How would you know if someone was asking for a water bottle or a gun? These are identities for objects and it would already wreak havoc on our minds that nothing has a name. The concept of not having a name for anything is crazy but all of the things in the world someone came up with that name for it.

Names for people are an identity and so is everything about someone. Everything that you wear, say, do and what you look like is your identity and so others can say “oh that’s Ryan the short tan kid that wears sweats and timberlands all the time.” Identities can give people a false sense of who they are and how they should act. For example, white people need to act a curtain way and black people need to act a curtain way. It’s having that False Self to find a way of fitting into the societal norm. With identities you can activate them, and you can then deactivate them and it all depends on the scenario. Kwame explains this when Illing asks “What determines which of these identities are activated at any given time?” Kwame explains in it pretty simple terms using his own identity of being a gay American, “So there’s an upcoming election and I’m very preoccupied with being an American and hoping that I can do something for my country and that my fellow citizens will go along. If I’m in a gay bar, then my gayness is salient and so is the fact that I’m male. When I’m teaching a philosophy class, I’m aware of the fact that the male and female students are male and female — I can’t ignore it. But it doesn’t seem very relevant to what we’re talking about, unless, of course, we’re talking about feminism, and then gender is very relevant.” It’s simple, all based on the what the scenario is, is when you show the identity you want.

We can conclude that with identities we find ourselves hiding who we really are because of what is considered OK by society. If we as a society shame people for who they really are we will never end the hate for minority groups and we will never find our true identify as a human race.

Word count:1811

Work cited

Illing, Sean. “Why Identity Is a Lie We Can’t Live without.” Vox.com. Vox Media, 02 Nov. 2018.

Web.

Yoshino, Kenji. “Preface, The New Civil Rights” Emerging: Contemporary Reading for

Writers,           Barclay Barrios, Bedford/St. Martins, 2010, 479-488.

HW due 2/4/19 part 2

In life we have identities that you might want to hide and some you might want to display and some that aren’t your true identity. At times in history people were shamed, given less rights, beaten, and murdered for those identities that were not the societal norm. For example, Jews in the 30s and 40s in Nazi Germany were the main targets of genocide for just being Jewish. Having that Jewish identity would have gotten them killed and a lot of Jews hid from the Nazis where ever they could to survive. It was difficult for Jews to hid because leading up to the genocide they were identified with an arm band with the star of David and then with a number tattooed on the arm. This is only one example where someone would want to hide their identity others could be African Americans, woman and gays throughout history were subjected to public shaming were thought to be less than a human being. Even Asian Americans were subjected to these acts of racism and hate because of their identity. Kenji Yoshino is an Asian American that has experience racism and hate first hand. Yoshino is a law professor that has taught at Yale and New York University he also graduated from Oxford and Harvard.  He has written multiple articles about civil rights and identities. He is also an openly gay man.

In his writing about “New Civil Rights” he uses the vocabulary of True Self and False Self. Yoshino references D. W. Winnicott who is a psychoanalyst they say that “True Self and false self that usefully tracks the distinctions between that uncovered and covered selves. The True Self is the self that gives and individual the feeling of being real, which is ‘more than existing; it is finding a way to exist as oneself, and to relate to objects as one oneself, and to have self into which retreat for relaxation.’ The true self is associated with human spontaneity and authenticity.” This True Self is basically who you really are and how you really feel about your identity for example if you are gay that is your True Self. On the other hand, you might not want to have that identity as gay and you making your identity as straight is your False Self. Yoshino explains that the false self “gives an individual a sense of unreal, a sense of futility. It mediates the relationship between the true self and the world.”
People use these False Selves to cover their identities because of things that are desirable like being killed. Now in the United States it is widely accepted for people to be black, gay, or transgender but just 40 years ago it was no OK to have any of those identities openly. W. D. Winnicott explains that when the true self does overcome the false self becomes a “polite and mannered social attitude”. I think of this as now false self I in the hiding and comes out to protect when there is a threat from society, governments, or communities. When society threatens identity of an individual or a group it takes the uniqueness from that society.

Having different people in communities is good for people to embrace different cultures and ways of thinking. I’m from Vermont and I joke that Vermont is the one place where you can where you can liberals and rednecks living in the same neighborhood at peace. Even though Vermont is not diverse racially we are very diverse in politics, sexual orientation and identity. This is why if you go to Burlington and walk around you will see “keep VT weird” shirts and bumper stickers all over the place. It’s weird for outsiders but its normal for the people that live there. As I have started to grow up I have noticed the differences in people’s race, gender, and sexual orientation. I see all of those people everyday and I see how some people treat them differently because of the way they identify themselves. Me personally I have always look at people for the values they hold not for what they look like. I personally don’t care what you think about politics or about me, I care about how you treat others and if you are a genuine person. Those are the identities people should judge people on. Identities cause a lot of intendances of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia and there is nothing we can do to stop having identities because it is how we as humans categorize people. It is in human nature to categorize things that. That is why we gave names to things to identify what they are. We as humans can’t live out identities because it’s in our nature. I discovered this idea of humans living with no identities from a philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah.

In an Vox article, Appiah is being interviewed by Sean Illing who is a writer for Vox, and Appiah implies in his new book that identities are a lie and we can’t live without them. When Illing ask Appiah what he means by identities are a lie Appiah explains that identities can bring people together but they can also push people apart. “They do bring people together, as well as divide people, and I think that the lies, the untruths, are often a very important part of how they work. They’re important to how people are held together.” I can see how this happens, for example being on the football team I have 80 people I know pretty well since we all identify as football players it brings us together in a crowd but inside the football team we have the offense and the defense. In the camp on defense we would say FTO and on the offense they would say FTD. It those mean F the Offense and F the Defense and we were getting separated as a team because one person was on the offense and the other was on defense.  Kwame then explains that since life is so complex we need to have these identities to make sense of life and what is going on. “People — and when I say people I mean everybody — need these simple stories and labels to help them understand their place in the world. Life is complicated, and the social world is complicated, and identities simply all that for us. And yet these are often just constructs, artificial labels that we’ve created, and our attachment to them can blind us to that fact.” Identities are a lie because we as a human race made them up to make sense of the world around us. This is really interesting because if you think about not having a name for anything. How would you know if someone was asking for a water bottle or a gun? These are identities for objects and it would already wreak havoc on our minds that nothing has a name. The concept of not having a name for anything is crazy but all of the things in the world someone came up with that name for it.

Names for people are an identity and so is everything about someone. Everything that you wear, say, do and what you look like is your identity and so others can say “oh that’s Ryan the short tan kid that wears sweats and timberlands all the time.” Identities can make give people a false sense of who they are and how they should act. For example, white people need to act a curtain way and black people need to act a curtain way. It’s having that False Self to find a way of fitting into the societal norm. With identities you can activate them, and you can then deactivate them and it all depends on the scenario. Kwame explains this when Illing asks “What determines which of these identities are activated at any given time?” Kwame explains in it pretty simple terms using his own identity of being a gay American, “So there’s an upcoming election and I’m very preoccupied with being an American and hoping that I can do something for my country and that my fellow citizens will go along. If I’m in a gay bar, then my gayness is salient and so is the fact that I’m male. When I’m teaching a philosophy class, I’m aware of the fact that the male and female students are male and female — I can’t ignore it. But it doesn’t seem very relevant to what we’re talking about, unless, of course, we’re talking about feminism, and then gender is very relevant.” It’s simple, all based on the what the scenario is, is when you show the identity you want.

We can conclude that with identities we find ourselves hiding who we really are because of what is considered OK by society. If we as a society shame people for who they really are we will never end the hate for minority groups and we will never find our true identify as a human race.

HW due 2/4/19

In life we have identities that you might want to hide and some you might want to display and some that aren’t your true identity. At times in history people were shamed, given less rights, beaten, and murdered for those identities that were not the societal norm. For example, Jews in the 30s and 40s in Nazi Germany were the main targets of genocide for just being Jewish. Having that Jewish identity would have gotten them killed and a lot of Jews hid from the Nazis where ever they could to survive. It was difficult for Jews to hid because leading up to the genocide they were identified with an arm band with the star of David and then with a number tattooed on the arm. This is only one example where someone would want to hide their identity others could be African Americans, woman and gays throughout history were subjected to public shaming were thought to be less than a human being. Even Asian Americans were subjected to these acts of racism and hate because of their identity. Kenji Yoshino is an Asian American that has experience racism and hate first hand. Yoshino is a law professor that has taught at Yale and New York University he also graduated from Oxford and Harvard.  He has written multiple articles about civil rights and identities. He is also an openly gay man.

In his writing about “New Civil Rights” he uses the vocabulary of True Self and False Self. Yoshino references D. W. Winnicott who is a psychoanalyst they say that “True Self and false self that usefully tracks the distinctions between that uncovered and covered selves. The True Self is the self that gives and individual the feeling of being real, which is ‘more than existing; it is finding a way to exist as oneself, and to relate to objects as one oneself, and to have self into which retreat for relaxation.’ The true self is associated with human spontaneity and authenticity.” This True Self is basically who you really are and how you really feel about your identity for example if you are gay that is your True Self. On the other hand, you might not want to have that identity as gay and you making your identity as straight is your False Self. Yoshino explains that the false self “gives an individual a sense of unreal, a sense of futility. It mediates the relationship between the true self and the world.”
People use these False Selves to cover their identities because of things that are desirable like being killed. Now in the United States it is widely accepted for people to be black, gay, or transgender but just 40 years ago it was no OK to have any of those identities openly. W. D. Winnicott explains that when the true self does overcome the false self becomes a “polite and mannered social attitude”. I think of this as now false self I in the hiding and comes out to protect when there is a threat from society, governments, or communities. When society threatens identity of an individual or a group it takes the uniqueness from that society.

Having different people in communities is good for people to embrace different cultures and ways of thinking. I’m from Vermont and I joke that Vermont is the one place where you can where you can liberals and rednecks living in the same neighborhood at peace. Even though Vermont is not diverse racially we are very diverse in politics, sexual orientation and identity. This is why if you go to Burlington and walk around you will see “keep VT weird” shirts and bumper stickers all over the place. It’s weird for outsiders but its normal for the people that live there. As I have started to grow up I have noticed the differences in people’s race, gender, and sexual orientation.

HW pt.1_ 1/27

Kwame Anthony Appiah implies that identities create most social issues like racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Kwame is a philosopher and cultural theorist who claims that identities create divisions between groups on people. In an interview with Sean Illing, an American writer for the new website Vox, Appiah implies that identities are a lie and that we can’t live without them. He then continues to explain how identities can bring people together, but they can also divide people based on the group you are in. I agree with Kwame, I think most of what he says people just know that things like racism happen for what others look like but the way he thinks about it is that its they way you look, act, talk, and things you do are what makes you YOU. The one thing that I don’t really know is that if Kwame knows that most of what humans do is put things into categories to identify things that harm us. I think most of what racism, xenophobia, and homophobia are, are impressions of stereotypes and that melts down to identities and how we as humans perceive others whether they are like us or not.

When Illing asks the question “The title of your book implies that “identity” is a lie. What do you mean by that?” Kwame responds with a kind of indirect answer, “There’s something misleading or mistaken about the pictures that underline these identities and yet they bind us together in spite of that. They do bring people together, as well as divide people, and I think that the lies, the untruths, are often a very important part of how they work. They’re important to how people are held together.” Kwame means that identities are made up so we can put people and things into categories and when doing this we tend have preferences and general assumptions of people already made up. By doing this it separates people or can bring people together. You can use the example of democrats and republicans. They all have the ultimate goal of making the United States best country in the world but the difference of what make the United States the best and how to get to them is where they get divided. Even though these things do not define people morally people take it that way. These perceptions of people divide because of stereotypes like all republicans are racist or all democrats are snowflakes. When people make these broad generalizations of a group of people it makes upset because it’s not true. Appiah knows this but, in the interview, he never directly says it.

When it comes to politics you make yourself out to be what you think the people want the most. Everywhere you look politicians are trying to get the majority of people to like them by changing their identity. Appiah says that “It’s simply not possible to do politics without identity.” This is true, all politicians have to have an identity or a group that they identify with. Whether it republican, democrat, libertarian or independent that is your identity to millions of voters. Identities are away we can know who people are and the most interesting part about identities are you can change most of them. The ones you can’t really change are you race, age and where you are from. You can change how people perceive your race age and where you are from by the way you dress, talk, mannerism, and how you interact with others. I noticed this in college by when I am talking to people from different places or that are a race other than white I tend to talk using Ebonics or different kinds of slang. I would say that changes my identity on who I am because you don’t see a lot of people from Vermont using Ebonics.

Since my dad’s side of the family is Mexican my sister and I get very dark in the summers from being outside so much and we fit it more with people of color. i really noticed this when we went out west we needed to find a place to do laundry. We found a laundromat in a Hispanic neighborhood as my sister and I were walking in I held the door for a Hispanic family and they all said “Gracias” to me and I was like wow that has never happened to me before. It felt like we as a family (except my mom) fit in with everyone in there. At that moment I felt like I was Mexican. It didn’t feel marginalized, I felt proud of my heritage and where I was from. Most of the time I would feel like a white kid with a tan because I grew up in such a white town there weren’t a lot of people that look like me and could relate to being really tan in the summer or and then basically yellow in the winter.

Identities can either bring people together or they can tear people apart. What we need to understand is that everyone is different and accept it. Even if it doesn’t necessarily might fit our ideals and how we might think we are still humans and should be treated as such.