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.

Free write due 1/24/19

Kwame Anthony Appiah answers question about how identities affect on a daily basis and what is an identity. I was surprised that Appiah said that identity is a lie because I am a person that likes to find out more about people, so I can “identify” who they are as a person. Then Appiah explained that identities can bring people together but also push people way from one another. I can agree with that, every day we put people in categories based on what they wear, talk, or look like. I think that no matter how hard we can try we will always do that. I find myself every day seeing people and looking at what they are wearing and putting them in categories like if someone is wearing a UNE hockey hat I put them in a category or give them an identity of being a hockey player. One thing people think of when I say I put people into categories is that I make snap judgements about them or others. This is not the case, I judge people off their character and how they interact with me and others. I can usually tell if I’ll like someone in the first few minutes of talking with them. Talking with people and finding out where they are from and who they are and what they like is very interesting to me. I love hearing their stories from childhood and what they have been through to get to this point in their lives. I use my dad as an example because he is one of the hardest working people I know and one of the humblest people as well. I truly look up to him as a father and as a person.

My father grew up on the South Side of Chicago in probably the roughest neighborhood in the country. He jokes about how the music that put him to sleep was the sounds of the streets… gunshots, crying mothers, and police sirens. He enlisted in the marines and fought in the Vietnam War. While on his tour he was struck in the neck by a blunt piece of shrapnel that almost killed him. He then declined the Purple heart which is an award given to soldiers or their families that were a causality of war. I asked him why he did that, and he told that he felt his injury was insignificant to the marines that lost limbs or their lives. He then comes back and gets his master’s in project management and worked for companies like IBM, General Dynamics, Keene Inc., Global Foundries, and Boeing. I found all of these things my senior year when I was writing a speech for public speaking and we had to choose a person that has had a large impact on us. When I learned these things my opinion of my father changed because at the time I never would have thought my dad was that tough and determined. If someone asked me who he was I would tell them he is “harder than life, kinder than love.” This quote came from a man named Nick Yarris that wrongfully convicted of a rape and murder of a woman and went through hell and back being victim of sexual abuse as a child, struggling with drugs and alcohol problems, facing police brutality, horrible conditions and beating in prison.

While Nick was in prison he didn’t had a stutter from getting his “head bashed in” by the police after he was arrested for having drugs on him. He was angry at the world and wanted to get out of jail. He was in for drug possession, resisting arrest and attempted murder of a police officer. He sees the morning paper and sees that a woman was raped in murdered a few days ago and he told the police that he knew who raped and killed the woman and he would tell them if they let him go. He then gives them a name of a man that he thought was dead, but the man wasn’t, and he also had an alibi and Nick didn’t. The police charged him with the rape and murder of the woman and he gets the death penalty. He then spends 22 years in the prison system in the hardest prisons in the country. One prison that he was in for five years if you made a noise the guards would come in and beat you senseless. During those five years he decided that he was done being mad at everyone and everything and decided that he would learn to love. He would wanted to read and to speak beautifully so the day he would die he would be able to speak with authority and articulate words with utter passion and beauty. When he was convicted of rape and murder of the woman discovering the and using DNA evidence was just a distant dream. But after 22 years in prison he was exonerated on all charges after a doctor figured out the best way to match the DNA with another. Nick is now an author and speaker and has spoken in front of the UN about human rights and now lives a peaceful life in Oregon.

I think these examples of people that you can identify as hard working or mentally tough people. Not many people make it out of those situations. End of 60min