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

One Reply to “Free write due 1/24/19”

  1. What does Appiah mean when he says “identity is a lie”?

    Thanks for the stories about your Father’s experience and Nick’s. As a reader they’re fascinating as they are. But as someone trying to figure out what identity is, what they do and why they matter I unsure how you intend me to use them as “material to think with.” Try to make clear what insight we get by considering the stories you’re telling. One way to do that is to return periodically in your examples to the interview with Appiah and make the connection explicit.

    Your stories also seem to say something about personal identity. Appiah seems to be talking about social identity. How should I use them to understand something about social identity?

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