In what variety of ways do our social identities shape our personal identities, our minds, our relationships, our lives, our life paths, our prospects, our sense of America and the American Dream?
A social identity is what everyone gets to see. It’s the you who goes to the bank, it’s the you who ride the train to work, and, it’s the one who talks to your acquaintances at the office. It usually reflects social norms with minor degrees of variants in a variety of different aspects. These slight variances are only small indicators of what lies below the immediate surface. Weather conscious or not we all have these small little tells which signal the true person we are below. Our personal identities are far more elusive. Maybe only a hand full of people will get to see this side of you the real you behind the mask that lured them in. Even then it can be very difficult for one to connect with their true self. As it can take years of self-reflection to truly get at who you are as a person. So, if it is the case that it’s hard to contact with your personal identity can your social identity affect who you are? For instance, Ta-Nehisi Coates as a child grew up on the streets of Baltimore and his social identity was an all-consuming. This was due to the danger of the streets. The fact that if there was even the smallest crack in the social identity it could result in your death. Mike Rose grew in a similar situation but dealt with it differently he ignores it. He just kept to himself and didn’t pay attention to the streets.
Our minds and our relationships kind of go hand in hand. From day one of our lives our minds are shaped by our caretakers whether these are our mother and father or Legal guardians. They Are for a time some of the only human beings you know and the only ones you get to learn from and Thus shape an immense part of your life and how you think. They can pass on cultural traditions, local social norms, and, mindsets and these sorts of things shape how you think and how your mind works. This also suddenly influences how you seek out relationships with other people. Thus, our mindsets affect how we find new relationships. Coates parents had to teach him about the street from a early age and how they swallow people whole. They had to stop that, so they need to shape him to survive the streets. To make sure he learned the lessons that would be crucial for him to survive they would need to take some extreme measures, but all necessary. Coates says it himself “My father was so very afraid. I felt it in the sting of his black leather belt, which he applied with more anxiety than anger, my father who beat me as if someone might steal me away, because that is exactly what was happening all around us.” (Coates pg16) Rose’s family where Strangers in an unknown land not knowing what kind of environment, they work in for the rules to survive they just isolate themselves from it, but this also isolates them from other people as their struggles go unnoticed by the community.
Our lives and our life paths again just like our minds and our relationships share a heavy correlation with each other. As the way someone lives their life affects where they go in life. Now the way someone lives their life obviously can be in varying degrees of control of the person who lives it. So, people are not totally responsible for their life path, but it is still expected that at points in which would have required self-agency that someone take it in order to get themselves a respectable life path. however, this does bring up how circumstantial life path are at times. It’s not to say that people cannot achieve a goal even if they work for it. It’s more saying that certain people are set up better to achieve certain goals. This inequality means that certain people tend to end up in certain places in society while others tend to end up in other places. For example, a person from an upper-class family is more likely to stay in the upper class then someone from the lower classes to enter the upper classes. Now you can look at this in a lot of ways like one way is that there is a systemic biased for people being the upper class staying in the upper class and for people who were poor to stay poor or you could see it as a table of probabilities in ratios that usually trend out to stay wherever they are. Coates Would find himself at the far end probability of getting out of a situation if it wasn’t for his love of writing he would have never gotten out just like Rose “We wrote three of four essays a month. We read a book every two to three weeks, starting with the Iliad and end up with Hemingway. He gave us quiz on the reading every other day. He brought a prep school curriculum to Mercy High” (Rose pg 32).
So much affect someone’s path where there from, who is they family, what goals that what to accomplish. Where the limit is what education you have and what biases surrounding you. Working harder and better to clime the ladder of work and accomplishment.
Rose. Lives on the Boundary. Prentice Hall, 2002.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi, and Klaus Amann. Between the World and Me. Reclam, 2017.