Question: How can someone defined by multiple identities overcome expectations and stereotypes set by society?
Agree: People of multiple ethnicities and cultures often find themselves caught in the middle of an ongoing inward and outward battle. Growing up ingrained in multiple cultures creates a complex dynamic of uncertainty and doubt. Questions of identity and expectation plague your consciousness and often lead to a pervading sense of alienation. People also face society’s question of who they are and who they must be. However, we must understand that we as people are not dictated by society’s definition of our identity, rather, we are intricate products of a diverse array of cultures, traditions, and customs. There is not a single definition of who you are, and we continually find ourselves attempting to fit into a set of descriptions created by those whose knowledge of different identities is limited to specific cultural norms. As a society, we are working towards creating a more inclusive and expansive understanding of the world. However, we fall short when we, for example, invite people of color to speak in conferences, as a symbolic effort to include minority groups in discussions of race and sexuality. The prevalence of tokenization in these efforts greatly diminishes the work of those people who take initiative to create programs that are deeply rooted in inclusion.
Disagree: Each of the three authors pose vastly different solutions to this issue. Adichie references her engrossment in literature and reading, using education to reach those who may have not experienced authors of other ethnicities, all the while allowing people to express their identity in the way most personal to them. Maalouf suggests that people with multiple identities must self-advocate, educate, and “build bridges” between different cultures. He uses his narrative as an immigrant to establish a connection with the reader, easing into the concept that we are not defined by one thing, rather, many facets of our identity. In contrast, Spivak proposes that non-marginalized groups need to use their privilege to gain a deeper insight and understanding of the struggle faced by those in minority groups, and in doing so, can begin to evaluate and rectify the systemic injustices endemic throughout the Western world.