Stereotyping Identity

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Jessica Perez
English 1A
MW 4:15PM
March 13, 2013
Stereotyping Identity
“Patterson, that’s me!” exclaimed a woman after the name Patterson was called out at the hair salon. This is a line from the movie “Identity Thief”, which was released last month. “Identity Thief” is the story of a man determined to get his life in order after having his identity stolen and being on the brink of losing everything merely days after discovering his wife is expecting again. This comedy portrays a man trying to restore his identity and ultimately his life. Identity in the movie is mainly used to refer to the man’s identification in a financial aspect; however, many people define, as well as, determine identity in different ways. As for Brent Staples, in his essay “Just Walk on By”, he shows how people inherit their identity which comes with stereotypes forcing Staples to adapt; although a key factor, inheritance through race and surroundings alone does not define a person but instead, society’s view of a person’s identity ultimately overpowers his or her identity as a whole. Predominately, race and gender based stereotypes are the main components that factor into the identity Staples learns to overcome. Staples describes a situation he was once in that made him think about the realities of certain stereotypes he was identified with. Staples states “To her, a youngish black man—seemed menacingly close”.(1) This is how Staples described walking on a deserted street near a female, just a few seconds before she took off running in response to the “menacingly close” Brent Staples. This is the crucial moment where he realizes he has “the ability to alter public space in ugly ways”(1) due to being a young black male—a direct result to the young black mugger stereotype, which for many years had been instilled by and into society; those of which he has now inherited. These stereotypes play an active role in his life and ultimately his identity. A person’s surroundings,...
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