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.