Question: how does the power of the dominant cultural group affect and shape the minority group’s sense of identity? (Group A)
Agree: Maalouf, Adichie and Spivak all agree that the dominant group negatively shapes the identity experience for the minority. Maalouf writes about the dominant group in France constantly trying to have him identify as “just” French or just Lebanese, when that is not how he sees himself. Spivak discusses how the power of the dominant group makes minorities see themselves as a relation to the majority, and how minorities often feel pressured to erase any part of themselves that is not the dominant group, or change to fit in with the dominant group’s culture. Adichie admits that only reading books about “foreigners” (white people) during her youth helped her grow in terms of imagination, but she also discusses how reading just these books erased the entire possibility of Africans existing in literature, leaving herself and her people unrepresented.
Disagree: source / root of pressure imposed by the dominant group: ignorance, racism, a need for compartmentalization or generalization, or tokenization.
Question: Who gets to describe our identity?
Agree on: common oversimplification and generalization of identity stories, which are really a collection of many different experiences and factors; existence of power dynamics in who is allowed to speak and what is said; personal diversity; everyone’s right to tell their own story
Disagree on: how much impact others’ opinions have on how we see ourselves and tell our stories; impact that discussion and storytelling have; right of people who don’t share an identity to tell that story
Question: How does the characterization of identity restrict stories and create stereotypes?
Agree on: the creation of a single identity to represent multiple people affects narratives and avoids confrontation
Disagree on: the need to earn the right to criticize based on race, gender, nationality, etc.
Question: Should people be categorized?
Agree for purpose of self advancement, need for being part of a certain people, and international relations.
Disagree for interpersonal relations, personal background of foreign individual, and representation of one’s people.
Question: What causes cultural homogenization?
Agree: Choosing to speak on behalf of only one aspect of an individual’s multi-cultural identity takes the variance in perspective out of a given cultural exchange, contributing to homogenization.
Disagree: when it is appropriate, if ever, to draw upon the experience of only one aspect of a person’s identity
Question: How do we look beyond the identity we give to ourselves and that others put on to us and find the commonality amongst people?
Agree on: Sharing our “why” instead of our “who”, remaining optimistic, looking for similarities that go deeper than the superficial, thinking of education as a force for human connection, and seeking the complexity amongst individuals to make sure we don’t place them in a box.
Disagree on: Lapierre theory on finding commonality and progress in coming together depending on the “unreasonable man”.
Question: How to choose when one has complex identity?
What is authenticity?
Should people “speak as…”?
Agree on: Most people, even minorities (immigrants, people with complex identity, from foreign culture), is somehow, in different degree, generalizing other people.
Disagree on: There should be authentic voices.
Question: What is authenticity?
Agree: The hegemonic conception of authenticity forces people to lose pieces of their identity and promotes nationalism and exclusion by forcing people to either assimilate and lose their authenticity or to become a token minority by expressing
Disagree: We have the ability to label what authenticity looks like in our own lives
Question: How does language and proximity affect lack of empathy between groups of people, and in what ways may this be remedied?
Agree on: It is easier to empathize with a flesh-and-blood person that belongs to a specific group than a theoretical or simplified depiction of that group.
Disagree on: the importance of the role of the dominant group in defining and bridging different groups of people. The feasibility of a “humane” society.
Question: Why do people tend to oversimplify questions of identity?
Agree on: replacing tokenization with genuine respect and a voice, broadening who is in the narrative while focusing on marginalized perspectives, the consequences of reducing our own identities to fit the loudest or more prominent identity.
Disagree on: the effect of microaggressions and intent vs. impact (varying analysis of severity)