Complexity Of Identity

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In the article ‘The Complexity of Identity - Who am I?’, the author Beverly Tatum argues that the definition of identity for a person is laid down by the societal norms and not by one’s own conscious understanding of her or his existence. And these societal norms are the ones that are acceptable to the dominant group of the society. Any aspect of one’s identity that sets her or him apart from others is targeted by the dominants. Tatum has used the terms ‘dominants’ and ‘subordinates’. We need to understand these terms first in order to understand what author means by the expression ‘The dominant group is seen as the norm by society’. In my opinion and understanding of the article, the dominant groups are the ones those are generally more in…show more content…
Now, the dominant group agrees with this idea. Consequently, we have rare examples in the history where women are involved in jobs like that of soldiers in army that require physical stamina and power. The dominant group is the one who assigns particular roles to its subordinates and make the latter feel devalued. With time, this idea develops into a norm and as a result the subordinates start doubting their own abilities. Domination and subordination go hand-in-hand. A dominant group is only existent if it has some subordinates. The terms like racism, sexism, classism etc. have roots in these norms laid down by the dominant society. For instance, White people are generally said to be physically more attractive or beautiful than people of color. Therefore, in some groups it is perfectly fine to tell jokes that denigrate people of color. Not only do the dominant groups try to suppress the subordinates but also oppose any kind of initiatives taken by them that can result in change in power…show more content…
Dominants may not even have a little idea of subordinates’ experience. But on the other hand, extensive information is available about the dominant group through TV, magazines, books etc. For instance, one can find White people ruling in all forms of media but people of color are portrayed rarely. As a result, the subordinates find it easy to learn about dominant group and it also becomes necessary for them. To make the idea more clear the author has quoted a saying of a Social Psychologist Susan Fiske in the article, which says, “People pay attention to those who can control their outcomes.” (Tatum, B. D. (2000). The complexity of identity: “Who am I?.”, page 4, paragraph 3) Unequal power shifts the focus of subordinates towards survival. And as we have already understood, dominants decide for the subordinates, thus, subordinates tend to change their ways according to the dominants. We can find a large number of examples where subordinates tend to develop self-doubt and self-hate and attempt to do things like Black people trying to use different products for lightening their skin, women trying to copy men in order to look like them
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