Society's Impact on Imparting Identity


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Since the beginning of time labels that are put on people and the way everyone is viewed has shaped identities across the globe. Identity can be found by someone’s name. A name gives a stranger a very broad spectrum of how an acquaintance may act. Parents and role models also help find the identities of others. Children especially are affected by an identity, for example, if their parents view them as worthless, they will think of themselves as worthless. In society, individuals use identity to divide people into groups as well as to label people as what people think of each other. Individuals who are different from one another are often ridiculed for their cultural identities and beliefs that shape them, which causes oppression as a society. Identity is the qualities and personality that make up a person, there are differences to every person and it’s what makes every person unique. The definition of identity is who you are, by the characteristics that define each individual and how the world views them. An individual’s identity has multiple ways to be represented and, self-expression changes depending on if someone is in their own home or out in public.

Identity is a concept in which it includes the social and historical nature of one another through interactions and media. Maya Angelou in her poem, “Still I Rises” uses “ You may write me down in history/ With your bitter, twisted lies” (Angelou, li. 1-2). As a society people always searched for power over one another. As a community, black Americans were treated as slaves and were segregated by whites. This public representation of black American’s identity shows that these people were once controlled by others but now hope for change. In “Blond,” Trethewey writes, “ A blond ballerina doll, nearly as tall as me, / I didn’t know to ask, nor that it mattered,/ if there’d be a brown version” (Trethewey, li. 11-13). In public individuals are subject to conform to the social norms of society, for example back then there was only one color doll and, no one ever questioned if it’s wrong for it to be like that. However, throughout the poem, Trethewey struggles with finding her identity and to the public, she sees herself as more white than black. By being more exposed to a specific culture individuals seem to adapt to them more than to other ones and it shapes what they feel is their identity. Trethewey a white and black American sees herself as only a white person because she was more exposed to her dad’s side of the family and grew up with the typical barbie doll.

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Private identity is being comfortable with one’s self and values. This type of expression and identity suggests that the actions of others don’t define what society is and it’s the private meaning of identity that shapes it. In the poem, “I, Too” Langston states, “Besides/ They’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed–” (Langston, li. 15-17). As a black American during segregation, it was hard to make a name for themselves when society treated them with hate and worthlessness. Langston uses this poem to declare that he is an American and, he and others are just as entitled to the same privileges as others. Langston identifies himself as beautiful as an individual and that these struggles of oppression and unfair justice will only make him feared by his oppressors when everyone is treated equally. “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” Tupac Shakur depicts, “Long live the rose that grew from concrete/ when no one else ever cared” (Shakur, li. 7-8). By one’s self, people can grow without social pressures affecting them. This enables them to express themselves freely without the application of social stigmas. Our gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, and even disabilities humans struggle with play a role in determining identities as well as whether or not individuals have social, or economic power. Being prosecuted for just being different happens all around the world and it creates a world filled with miss opportunities and unfair treatment. Society expects everyone to conform to social norms and to be like each other without any difference. However, it is always said to express ourselves when society itself does not care for one’s self-identity.

A character’s identity has a couple of methods to be represented and, self-expression adjustments depending on if a person is in their own home or out in public. Identity is important and it determines someone’s values as well as what others think about them. Identity shapes an individual’s interest and makes them what adults they become and if they want to be active members of society. However, the world seems to only look at one type of identity and continues to look at the same images that represent oneself values. It’s all based on how each and everyone expresses their emotions and ethical background that makes society as a whole unique.

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