Essay 2

Raymond Evans

ENG 123

Professor Drown

February 9th 2019


A person’s identity is one of the most personal and private values that anyone can have in their life on this earth. It can be used to define who they are, helps them make up what they want to be or maybe even not who they are but who they want to be portrayed as. Throughout history and especially today people are now ashamed or manipulated to feel that if their true identity is not going along with the current mainstream, they will have to hide it or portray themselves in maybe a different way. For some, such as gay americans, it may be hiding their sexual orientation. For others, it can be something as simple as changing their name. Kenji Yoshino has taken a very deep and educated look at why the society in the United States forces people to hide their identity. For him this isn’t just a personal hiding, he sees this as a civil rights issue that needs to change.


In Yoshino’s writing 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. Yoshino feel as if our civil rights needs to be changed from the idea of group based politics to a reform that everyone is looked as equally. He states  that “ our current civil rights laws only protect things or traits that we can’t change such as skin color, chromosomes, or innate sexual orientation.” These current laws do not protect people from the things Yoshino feels we cover the most. This new civil rights paradigm should be “focused on what pulls us together instead of what pulls us apart.” He defines True Self as the self that gives an individual the best feeling of being real which is the most exciting way for a person to feel like they are existing. True Self is the most honest way a person can exist with themselves and also coexist with the objects and the world surrounding them. Yoshino says it correlates most with self “spontaneity and authenticity”. True Self is who a person really is and wants to be in their own identity. It is the person who has has nothing to cover about themselves and knows their truest relationship with themselves and the world.Covering as Yoshino defines it, is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream. He feels that everyone covers whether subconsciously or not. An example of covering would be one showing their False Self. False self is what gives a person a sense of feeling unreal and a sense of “futility”. It’s the relationship that mediates what is good and bad between one’s identity with their true self and their identity with the world. A False self is often used because people are afraid of being judged for who they actually are to the point where they feel like they need to cover. In our recent years of civil rights there has been many government reforms of civil rights for gays, african americans, even women. But this was not always the case. I believe that people use covering and sometimes cover because they feel the sense that they are protecting themselves from the forces of the mainstream. We can often see on things such as the news where there are certain individuals or groups that we may call “cults” that will judge and threaten harm against people for their certain True Self identities. One example would be the Westboro Baptist church. This church group is known for their treatment and hate speeches against the LGBT community, Jews, muslims and many other social groups. These people understand that when they do these things publicly they will scare people into covering for their own comfortability.

This is what takes unique things out of society.  People do not realize that as a society it is and should be ok to have different people in different groups throughout different communities. These differences should be embraced into what makes our culture and society unique. There are also views like Appiah who believe that identities can break people apart just as much as it can pull people together. This comes with the fact that people may be covering either subconsciously or because they are simply afraid. But a person’s identity is still needed for people to realize who they are and what they stand for to make sense of them.Appiah later says that “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.” He believes identities aren’t actually real and the human race just made them up to try and make sense of the world. This all matches in with the concept of having a name and why people have identities for things and even objects for what things say and mean. With society as it currently is and having names people will still be forced to have to hide certain parts of them as long as there is what’s called a mainstream which will keep the pressure on minority groups and societies forever be hiding apart of what makes them unique.


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