September 23, 2014
Appiah’s essay, “Racial Identities”, presents the idea that people should not live their lives with the specific identities that our culture has displayed over time. Every culture has their own specific stereotype for themselves and other ethnicities. Throughout the world but especially in American culture people are prematurely judged by their outward appearance and beliefs before one has even gotten to know them. Appiah is suggesting that instead of judging by one’s skin color and race we “live with fractured identities; engage in identity play; find solidarity, yes but recognize contingency, and above all, practice irony” (62). In short he is saying that we should be living with the identity’s that have been takena and to be one’s own person. Finding something new about yourself that’s out of the normal routine. Finding a group of others with the same emotions and beliefs as one’s self. But At the same time keeping an open mind. Lastly don’t be afraid to step outside your stereotypical role that you have been assigned in life.
Each cultural group is cast into certain categories. Asians are generally considered to be well educated in mathematics, African Americans are well known for being great basketball players, while Canadians excel in the sport of hockey. It takes great courage to break out of one’s stereotypical role in society. The Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones has done just that. Cullen Jones is one of the few African American swimmers in the world who is at the elite Olympic level. There is an erroneous stereotype in America that African Americans can’t swim. This assumption has been proved wrong by the United States African American swimmer Cullen Jones who has won several Olympic medals in the past two Olympics. As being one of the only African American’s to be noteworthy in the sport of swimming he has been cast as the representative for the sport and his race. He defies the social norm by being the barrier breaker who has shown the world that swimming skills aren’t based on one’s color. He’s not the only athlete to break away from expected expectations though. Yao Ming is a retired basketball player for the Houston Rockets. The stereotype that Chinese people are short is completely broken by this man who is seven feet six inches tall and has surpassed all expectations that his society has been cast with about expectations for Chinese athletes. Many athletes, such as these two, broke through the wall of social norms to reach their own dreams and quite possibly pave the way for others of not only the athletic world, but the entire world itself
In our society, many people live two separate lives, one for everyday appearance and the other as a secret from others. One example that’s present in New York City is the famous prostitution house, East Grand Road in the Simplex building. The women who participate there live a secret life in order to make ends meet. The pressures of daily bills and expenses have practically forced the hands of some of these girls to trade sexual favors for cash just to get by. The likelihood of their friends and family knowing about their secret night job is slim to none. The fear of disgracing their family, not to mention the shame of doing such a demeaning job is plenty incentive to keep this dark world a secret from the worker’s loved ones. The family wouldn’t support their relative’s career choice and if word got around that this was her profession there is a likely chance of discrimination from future potential jobs that do not involve sexual favors. Although this may sound bad to live with a “hidden” life may be best sometimes because the truth isn’t always accepted as the cultural norm and is often not easy to hear. Not divulging every secret about one’s life protects oneself and others from embarrassment and judgment. Appiah says in his essay that living two lives like these women do is…