What Is Identity

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A Social psychologist, Solomon Ash conducted the famous “face the rear” experiment in 1962. In this experiment, a man walks in an elevator and realizes all the people in the elevator are facing the opposite direction of the door. It is the norm for people to face the side of the doors. This man realizes that these people are still facing the opposite direction of him as the elevator slowly ascends. (Complex compound) Instead of being an individual and continuing facing the elevator doors, this man joins these random people in unison by facing the opposite direction of the door. What is it that distinguishes us apart from each other? Society norms seem to be helping people in creating their identity. Daring to be different is what makes a human an individual. Andres Martin, author of “On Teenagers and Tattoos” and Brent Staples, author of “Black Men and Public Space” both describe experiences with identity in their short essays. These authors explain that identity is created from the social norm. Once identity is created, a person can choose to follow the norm or become an individual and create their own unique path.

In the short essay, “Black Men and Public Space”, Staples talks about being identified as a criminal his whole life because of his skin color. Throughout his life, Staples was continuously stereo typed. He first starts by explaining couple different scenarios. He was simply taking a night time stroll. During his walk, he encountered a woman who from a distant seemed to be scared. After a few quick glances, the woman began to pace herself quickly. This woman soon began to run. She was running away from Staples who did not mean to harm anyone. This woman stereo typed Staples to a mugger, rapist, or maybe a murderer. She identified Staples to be a person he was not. He then explains different instances where people would lock the door at intersections while he crossed in front of their vehicle. How could he have struck fear in these people’s...
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