Not only does Beverly Tatum analyze the factors that contribute to one’s identity, she explains the societal mirror in which we might shape this image. In paragraph one she refers to social scientist, Charles Cooley, saying long ago that other people are the mirror in which we see ourselves. Due to the dominate/subordinate groups that exist, people tend to believe that they are defined by their race/ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. Tatum explains that younger kids don’t yet have the cognitive and physical development needed to reflect on themselves in this way. Tatum then mentions that self-identity is determined during the period of adolescence. If one was to be asked to answer the question, “I am ___,” most would respond with their race/ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. still to this day, but I believe what Tatum is trying to make aware is that you are not defined by these things. She identifies that some identities are more dominant than others, therefore different groups have different variability on that person’s own self-identity but also in their influence on society as a whole. Tatum concludes her essay arguing her point that people are oppressed by their own identities, they see what they want to see and don’t take into account that they experience dominance somewhere in their life, whether it is heterosexuality, being a Christian, being an able-bodied person, etc. By being more aware of different identities and “building alliances” between each identities it might allow us to live freely.
It’s hard to believe that identity is created by outside components within society as well as factors directly related to our beings. I wholeheartedly agree with Tatum that we see ourselves through others—which includes hierarchal groupings and biased oppressions. It not only causes people to group up, and try to stay away from those who are different, but it causes stereotyping. She talks about how dominates are unaware of what the experience of subordinates is, but subordinates are well informed of the dominants. This, I believe, is true to an extent because there can be people that are both dominant and subordinate. In Tatum’s article she states, “…information about subordinates is often limited to stereotypical depictions of the “other.”
For example, there are many images of heterosexual relations on television, but very few images of gay or lesbian domestic partnerships beyond the caricatures of comedy shows. There are many images of white men and women in all forms of media, but relatively low portrayals of people of color…” This I have to disagree with, though there are many tv shows and movies with mostly white people, there are movies and tv shows that are strictly people of color. You couldn’t find a tv show with strictly white people on it from this decade, because everything is so different from when this article was published in 2000. Homosexuality and race are still subordinates, in that they are minorities, but could that also be why there are less tv shows/movies about them? The ratios are too far apart to be able to have the same amount of shows or movies. This article overall was a good read and I would recommend it for the simple fact that it does give you a different perspective whether you are a dominant or subordinate.