Advanced Essay #2: The system of identity

The goal of my essay was to analyze the way other people affect ones sense of identity and how an individual is affected by the opinion of a mass. I am proud of some of the descriptions in my essay and finally expressing how I felt about this process in detail. I had never explained to myself why I wanted locs it just happened and I went with it. I feel like this essay starts to explain other aspects of my personality that might change with time.

In Beasts of the southern wild, everyone in The Bathtub was happy with the life they had, they still lived in fear of those who were superior, they had nowhere to go but where they were. They knew that people would tell them where they lived was unsafe, or how they lived was disgusting but they were adapted to that lifestyle so outsiders would not understand. The way they lived worked for them, it was not meant or made to work for anybody else. Anyone coming into a community will not understand how that community works if they have already had exposure to another one, there is an immediate bias.

¨I´m apart of a big big universe and I make things right¨Hushpuppy says this all throughout the movie, she is saying her people created balance and variety and without that the community would fall apart because everything has an equal or opposite reaction. When they left, everything went out of control and everyone was forced to adjust in a way that did not necessarily work for them. Everyone had an opinion on what they should be doing but for everyone´s well being everything has to fit together just right so it does not matter if something is different it is necessary.

¨When you ask me am I really a woman, a human being,

a coherent identity, I’ll say No, I’m something else

like that though. ¨

A poem by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza speaks to people finding one aspect of a person then assuming their entire identity. Everyone is a combination of different traits, and a product of their environment. No black person has all the stereotypical traits, you can be black but be articulate or have no rhythm. It does not make you less black. In this poem the artist is separating herself from a group and becoming an individual. She is defining herself before going out into the world, if this happens then no one can tell you who you are or are not.

Sweatpants sitting on my thighs while my converse hugged my toes. My two aunts pick up pace behind me. The soles of my shoes shed rubber against tar, I reach the sidewalk and open the door. The wide salon greets me with aerosol clouds and clumps of hair sitting on the floor. Two brown skinned women with butterscotch locs smile and look to me. ¨Are you ready?¨ They each ask one after the other. They were beautiful no doubt, earthly goddesses but is their hair journey right for me? I forced a laugh and flashed a smile to my aunts, I had already asked for this as a birthday gift. The appointment was made, money ready to be spent, in about two hours there would be no turning back.

My feet found their way around and next thing I knew I was sitting i the waiting room. The salon was beautiful, the hair dressers were gorgeous, but only two had locs. Sza sings in the background as I constantly replay my mothers words,

¨You look awful, from now on you will either loc your hair or wear extensions¨

I never liked extensions or the feeling of artificial on natural. I loved my lions mane no matter how many times my grandmother unsuccessfully tried to tame it.

I don´t think I realized what was happening while it happened, I only went through motions.

I stand up. My feet led my legs somewhere. I sat down. Hands rushed through my hair, met with water. Everything stopped. I look up.

A lady with long brazilian bundles in a ponytail grasped my curls

¨So why do you wanna get locs?¨

My eyes started to dart around the salon, the bounced off the lights, away from her, onto the wall, over to the shampoos, I was seemingly searching for an answer to her question. It shouldn´t be that difficult I´m already here, my heart speeds up, I stutter,

do I actually want to be here? It doesn´t matter I already am I flush out fear and push words out.

¨Oh yeah, ummm my aunts have locs, and they look nice.¨ Honestly at that point I knew I sounded stupid, but that was the only other reason other than

my mother wanted me to. Brazilian bundles set out a soft breath with a smile, I guess it was imitating a laugh.

¨You have beautiful hair.¨ She wasn't the only person who had told me that. Less than 24 hours ago my older cousin pleaded with me not to get locs.

¨You´re so pretty why would you want locs?¨ I greeted but not welcomed her question with silence. Countless people had opinions about my hair, one boy had texted me ¨don´t get locs, it will mess up your curl pattern¨ as if he was an expert on hair types, he uses Cantu on his hair so his current curl pattern is already messed up, but moving on. I guess I would just get locs then end up loving them on me.

I followed Brazilian Bundles to a salon chair, as a woman a little taller than me slides into my peripheral vision. Her locs came to her clavicle, she had been growing them for some time. Her overall energy was welcoming, I felt more at ease starting my locs with someone who had them, but not all the way.

Sitting in her slippery salon chair, my feet dangled reminding me that it would be hard to escape this. So there was the artist, the stylist, with a tangled mess before her, my hair. Before she begun, I saw three different tools, loc styling gel, a fine rat tail comb, then scissors. My stomach tightened, turned rock solid no one has ever cut my hair before. Sure it was not super long because of how I brushed it and how my hair always shed, but scissors were never put to it. In a matter of seconds my hair went from shoulder length (with shrinkage) to earlobe length.

Why did you need to cut it? I steadily repeated in my head. I did not know what to do with short hair. My stylist, LaRhea took the rat tail comb, parted a section, then completed it by twisting the comb. She was careful but quick.

¨Please don´t revert this process¨ she said to me when she had finished. Meaning follow her instructions to maintain my hair until the next time we met. And I did. I saw her every month for the next year to retwist my locs until I found someone new.

¨Oh my gosh¨ squealed my aunt and my older cousin in unison as they walked into the salon to pick me up. ¨You look so cute¨

I smiled at the compliment longing for inches of my hair, not completely believing it.

For days I had wanted to untwist my starter locs, but day after day I became more accepting of them until my hair was fully locked.

In a TEDTALK Thandie Newton proposes this thought ¨We each have a self, but I don´t think we´re born with one.¨ The idea here is that we grow into ourselves as time goes on. When we are born, we each have a physical body but as we get older we start to make choices for our own concept of self, from those decisions comes a personality then that´s where you come in as a self. Everyone has some sense of who they are or want to be but no one ever has the concrete knowledge. People project certain energy and everyone is a product of their environment. Often we change to please others.

If we challenged the system more maybe it would not reject us as much, we would not be outcasts or forced to fit in a box. If we were to fight against the dominant culture all the time we would be exhausted so we should question who we are but choose in which ways we challenge the system/expectations when necessary.