The goal of my essay is to explain how one’s identity is a literacy and how stereotypes based on predictions affect how one views their own identity as well as other people's identity. The essay goes more into depth about sexuality specifically. The part of the essay that I am most proud of is the third paragraph down. I could improve on allowing my ideas to flow better.
Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover
My hands were swinging by my side, the air was cold and there was snow on the ground. The street was loud, booming with crowds of people. I thought that maybe I had heard it wrong. My mind raced with the possibilities of what he could have said, hoping he said something different, praying, as I heard the words run through my brain. The words he spoke tainted the image that I had of him, more than I could have ever imagined.
I was happy not knowing the gleeful ignorance of his misunderstanding when he exclaimed the words “I would not have sex with a bisexual person because of sexually transmitted diseases.” My stunned response led to more rude comments that I would have never expected, unveiling ridiculous stereotypes of a bisexual person, statements such as bi people are whores, and questioning why bisexual people can not commit, or why they cannot choose between heterosexuality and homosexuality. This is normal for me; my friends and people around me making homophobic, or just generally offensive, jokes at my expense and expecting me to laugh as if my feelings do not matter. It was a few years ago, but the voice still stings in my head, the words, while not important to him, changed the way that I spoke my language.
The stereotypes that are ingrained in our society allow people to judge a book by its cover, determining one’s value by looking at the outside cover without reading the inside. People give these stereotypes no second thought, living and breathing based on the judgements that they make. There is nothing wrong with the judgements, but people can go above and beyond those two dimensional images. It is when you force any one person into the stereotypes where the problem comes up. Forcing people into set images separates them from their identity.
Each person's identity is a language that each person speaks, but it's more than the actual words, it is also made up of the actions, the ideas, and the visual representations of the person. The combination of these aspects is what makes up a person's individual language.
The following quote by James Baldwin in his work, If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? reinforces the idea that people’s language is what makes up their identity and creates the image that people see. “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.” The way people communicate and interact are tainted by the outside world, the way people look at them and the way you look at yourself are shaped by the the words and views of other people. They can not speak their language because people do not understand it.
Sexualty is not on a lever where you can switch it from straight to gay, there is a sliding bar of sexualities. Each person fits somewhere on the scale. The people who do not see and understand this look at the world as a black and white image, the vivid color of each person's identity is drained from their view. It is no different than the different languages people speak. Some people speak English, others speak Spanish and people are judged by how they speak by different groups.
Some people believe that repeated slurs can change a person's perspective of themselves. This can be seen in Gloria Anzaldua’s work, How to Tame a Wild Tongue in the quote, “Repeated attacks on our native tongue diminish our sense of self.” It is acceptable to speak a commonly known language that people can learn and understand, but as soon as it's not easy for the majority of people to understand, it is deemed wrong. People may correct those mistakes and attach negative ideas to that correction. Being prejudged and berated erodes a person’s identity of themselves, it creates a society where people are ashamed to speak a language that is not seen as normal. That feeling of the lack of normality leads to the more negative effects, creating a never ending cycle.
James Baldwin,nytimes,New York Times,July 29, 1979,http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html,
Accessed Dember 8. 2017
Gloria Anzaldua,everettsd,Borderlands = La Frontera.,1987,https://www.everettsd.org/cms/lib07/WA01920133/Centricity/Domain/965/Anzaldua-Wild-Tongue.pdf,Accessed December 8. 2017