Covering Claude M. Steele Summary

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Mutable identity is an identity or a social status that can be obscured, altered, or removed in order to conform to social standards or improve one’s opportunities; a capacity to assimilate. In the second part of Covering, Kenji Yoshino discusses how people’s identities especially regarding race and sex can be limited in expression. He aims to demonstrate the limitations of legal protection against such discrimination by describing the society’s expectations to tone down the mutable aspects of one’s life. The author champions authenticity as major reason to defy coerced conformity. Claude M. Steele, on the other hand, presents many strategies with which disfavored identities can be muted. Steele believes that people should avoid mainstream…show more content…
He also states that contingencies “[threaten] the person or [restrict] the person’s access to opportunity. Steele argues that muting an identity should be an aspirational effort in which a person diffuses the existing threat in order to seek a better life. Negative contingencies present a possibility of social rejection, lost opportunity, and even humiliation. Such an identity is preoccupying and can hinder the way one functions in the society. By eliminating the disfavored traits we can decrease the chance of social discrimination and prejudice and increase one’s social…show more content…
It may be time to mix those metaphors… Second-class citizenship prevents our lives and our culture from making a mark on the common semantic stock (139). This means that by assimilation to public conditions and demands the human public loses their authentic identities. In his terms, it is a “catch-22” situation in which people are constantly coerced into covering and reverse-covering as a condition of living. It is a civil rights issue because immutable identities are not protected and the public expectations make personal choices impossible in these situations. In theory, identity mutability is a great solution to coerced covering. In practice, however, the limitations imposed on accommodation. Where the two authors argue whether personal identity is arbitrary, I propose that much more imperative than authenticity is identity autonomy. People should have the opportunity and ability to choose which identities they want to mute and whether they want to mute any at all. This stems from the idea that “identity” is a broad term and different people will put more or less value in different identity qualities. In other words, what is important to one person will not be important to another; one that values authenticity will find another that champions the melting pot

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