Individual characteristics, family dynamics, and historical events contribute to the complexity of identity. In a society with the majority and minority groups, activation of identity occurs daily. These differences may emanate from race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. In all these instances, there are usually the dominant and the subordinates groups. The dominants often represent the largest group whose norms get imposed on the rest of the population in one way or another. Their cultural practices and beliefs get transferred to the subordinates during growth. Despite the issue of identity becoming complex, it is paramount that people from minority groups take up their responsibility of speaking out while engaging in activities that define them without fear or intimidation. Furthermore, those in positions of power and the dominants must understand the significance of acknowledging their complicity in the oppression of others.
Since childhood, the dominants’ mythical norms are considered the minimum expectations for everyone in the society, irrespective of their supposed beliefs and conformity to the identity represented by these standards. The issue of identity, as far as race, gender orientation, and religion is concerned, has gotten clearer in today’s society than ever. In the chapter “The Complexity of Identity: ‘Who Am I?” written by Beverly Daniel Tatum, the consequence of multiple individual characteristics is plain. It is these characteristics that define social categorizations and create the foundations of individuals. People’s diverse backgrounds are part of modern society. It is necessary to appreciate these differences in who we are as humans than create boundaries based on religion, skin color, or sexual orientation. It should no longer be risky for the subordinates within the society to speak about oppression.
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The challenges of being considered a subordinate extends beyond the U.S. For instance, after the mass withdrawal of U.S. troops from Pakistan in mid-2021, the country saw the rise of gender inequality issues from education to cultural practices. Consequently, women and girls cannot enjoy most of their rights supposedly preserved for men (Tariq et al., 2021). As explained by Tariq et al., there is an increased likelihood that the Taliban will deprive the women and girls of their legal rights, and ultimately, “they would not have access to the services and education system of the modern times” (p. 771). Despite these changes, women have formed groups that have sought to raise their voices and get heard by quietly observing the international community. Undoubtedly, there are severe consequences for such moves. For example, the Taliban has killed some women leaders and beaten protestors in public to silence them (Miah, 2021). Nevertheless, this situation could be different if those in positions of power were willing to unite and understand the need to end oppression and segregation.
If the authorities and people supposed to end segregation do not take this responsibility earnestly, then oppression gets normalized on a large scale resulting in widespread chaos. For example, Konrad (2018) describes the implications of the White supremacists’ enthusiastic support of the former president, Donald Trump, and his rhetoric emphasizing minority groups as a threat to the nation. It was a form of reinforcement to racism because it ignored stereotypes and fueled negative emotions and discriminatory behavior towards racial minorities. As black people protested throughout the nation repeatedly, they got labeled as troublemakers and considered a danger. These events align with Tatum’s argument: “Persevering records of those subordinates and their dominant allies who have challenged the status quo is usually of little interest to the dominant culture” (Tatum, 1997, p. 13). Minorities could find it easier to speak out and fight the internalizing problems if the authorities, schools, and other public entities are willing to offer the necessary support and create systems that address the issue of identity in the U.S.
The troubles and challenges the marginalized and underrepresented groups experience today could end if we all acknowledge our involvement in the oppression of others. The dominants (majority groups within our society), the subordinates (underrepresented groups), and those in positions of power (school administrators and lawmakers) must all work collaboratively. People of conscience – most of us are – can build upon the shared heritage of conceding implicit bias, educate ourselves on how these biases affect who we are, and break the habit of normalizing oppression. The efforts to end identity problems in the U.S. must involve clear articulation of facts and validation of everyone’s values. Unity can defeat contemporary extremism that threatens our identity as a society focused on equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Konrad, A. M. (2018). Denial of racism and the Trump presidency. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal, 37(1), 14-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/edi-07-2017-0155
Miah, M. (2021). Biden claims’ success’ while resistance grows inside Afghanistan.
Tariq, M., Amir, M., & Bano, S. (2021). Future threats and opportunities in Afghanistan in the post-US withdrawal scenario. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity, and Change, 15(7), 766-778.
Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?: And other conversations about race. Basic Books.