posts 1 - 15 of 26
Ms. Bowles
Posts: 20

Questions to Consider:

Please use the following questions as a guide for your post. You can choose to focus on one of the question sets, or to incorporate several of them into your response. Please note that you must include some reflection on the identity vessels of your peers in your response to earn full credit for this assignment.

  1. How complex are our individual identities? What shapes how we see ourselves, how others see us and how we see others?
  1. Is our identity really malleable? How much does society today limit our ability to change and grow in our identities?
  1. How do our individual identities impact our personal and social choices? How are personal and social identities connected and how are they different?
  1. What did you learn about your peers from their identity vessels? Were you surprised by some of the vessels? How do these vessels relate to what you have read about the concept of identity?

Word Count Requirement: 250-500 words

Readings to Reference:

Please refer to the ideas, either using a quote or paraphrasing, from at least one of the readings in your post.

“The Complexity of Identity: Who Am I?” By Beverly Daniel Tatum

“How Social Media Shapes Identity” By Nausicaa Renner

Rubrics to Review:

Identity Vessel Rubric

LTQ Rubric

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

Our individual identities are very complex and important. You could know someone for years but never really know a lot about them. I think this project was very important because it let us learn deeper things about our classmates, that even if we knew them before, were new to us. There are many of things these days that shape how we see ourselves and how other people see us. For example, one main thing is social media. There are many different sites and apps that people use every single day, and every time we use them, we see peoples’ thoughts and feelings towards the things we do, clothes we wear, and so much more. A quote from The Complexity of Identity: “Who Am I?” by Daniel Tatum, shows how much how we see ourselves is impacted by how other people see us. “Who am I?...Who do my parents say I am? Who do my peers say I am? What message is reflected back to me in the faces and voices of my teachers, my neighbors, store clerks? What do I learn from the media about myself? How am I represented in the cultural images around me?” There are so many people around us that impact how we feel about our own identity, even when we should define who we are, not them.

When I looked around at the identity vessels, I was surprised how much I didn’t know about the people that I thought I knew for years. There are so many little facts and things that make up a a person that you learn with a project like this. These vessels relate to what I have learned about identity because they show just how much makes up a person. Including things like their favorite drink, sport, their friends and more.

Posts: 11

Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection

Someone once told me that lined paper can be as special as the words on it. This kept coming back to me as I perused my classmates' identity vessels, and saw how they could turn simple objects like shoe boxes and jars into beautiful expressions of their identity. I think this project was a fascinating way to see how our individual identities impact our personal and social choices. The vessels do not encompass one’s whole identity, and how much information someone includes can show so much about them. Someone may have had a vessel with much less information, but they may have been too afraid to share personal details with classmates who were acquaintances, strangers, or even friends. Between individuals, some felt that their social and personal identities were very similar and chose a clear vessel. Others felt that there was a disconnect between their personal and social identity, and chose an opaque container. Nevertheless, I learned something new about each person after looking at their project. The vessels were aligned with what I have read about the concept of identity: we define ourselves by the groups we are a part of. Looking around, I saw sports teams, pride flags, religions, ethnicities, Taylor Swift fans, and more. Beverly Daniel Tatum writes how “integrating one’s past, present, and future into a cohesive, unified sense of self is a complex task that begins in adolescence and continues for a lifetime....” (Daniel Tatum 2). I wonder what emotions my peers and I will feel, looking back on this project. Will I be embarrassed and think myself naive for including an object or adjective, or will I feel nostalgic for this time in my life? I want to hear what Ms. Bowles thinks her high school self would have included. I remember her saying that she wanted to assure a former classmate who now works at BLS that she isn’t the same person as she was in high school- that she has changed. Even considering myself in sixie year, I feel embarrassed. What leads us to feel shame in these past versions of ourselves, despite the fact that everyone has lived through these experiences? Is it someone else's opinion?

I believe that we start the year with this project with the intention of promoting a good environment for discussion, not just as a filler icebreaker like the ones in many other classes. It's easy for me to see my teachers and classmates as one-dimensional, but when I saw my peers write “music is the only thing that keeps me sane”, or how they have felt like they were “only surviving, not living” at times, it gives me a feeling of connection and makes me more comfortable in the classroom.

Posts: 12

Our identities are inevitably affected by how others perceive us and how we wish to be perceived by others. Humans want to be accepted by others; that’s a natural desire. We are social creatures who aim to build a community around us in which we feel loved. This concept has resulted in phenomena such as peer pressure and people pleasers, in which humans are so desperate to be accepted that they change their personality and/or behavior in order to satisfy what (they think) other people want to see. This mindset is something that we are all prone to and that is clear in how each of our identities has developed over time. For instance, when I was going around the classroom looking at others’ identity vessels, many people discussed in their statements the juxtaposition between how they present themselves to the world and how they truly are. An example of this is the topic of mental health, and how many people discussed feeling ashamed of their struggles with their mental health and trying to cover it up or make it less noticeable. Since mental health is still largely considered a taboo subject by society, the impulse to hide our struggles stems from that. However, it’s also important to address how society has allowed people to become more comfortable within their identities. The fact that so many people were willing to admit to their internal dialogue regarding their mental health shows the progress that society has made in being more open about such topics.

Furthermore, the impact of societal norms and standards is especially evident when someone is a member of a minority group. People in the minority are likely to assimilate into the mainstream culture of those around them. For example, people who are ethnically in a minority are likely to adjust their accent, their appearance, and/or their music taste to fit the standard of the dominant people. If these people had grown up in an area where their ethnicity was the most prominent, then they would likely have developed different interests or even entirely different personalities. In contrast, some minority groups will deliberately reject the culture of the dominant group in order to maintain their own. As Beverly Daniel Tatum writes in “The Complexity of Identity,” “Because of the risks inherent in unequal relationships, subordinates often develop covert ways of resisting or undermining the power of the dominant group” (4). These “covert ways” can include jokes that ridicule the dominant group and stories of the subordinate group outsmarting them. However, as Tatum makes clear, this strategy “is costly to members of the targeted group” (4), as it could decrease their chances of being successful in a society where they inherently have less power. I would add that this is costly to the members of the dominant group as well, as they are missing out on the opportunity to reflect on their identities and culture in juxtaposition to those of another community.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection

Identities are one of the most complex human natures that cannot always be explained in perfect detail as it has been stated throughout class. Most adults are nothing like they were as teenagers let alone as children. Identity is a constant changing thing through new experiences, new found interests and the people we surround ourselves with. Throughout making the identity vessels many people had to dig much deeper and reflect on who they truly were, not just who they wanted to come across as. Along with the fact that we group ourselves around the people we like the most, we try to become like them or become versions of ourselves that are not completely authentic. When looking at some of the vessels throughout the class I noticed how the side of how people are "perceived as' ' was usually positive words and the opposite side had some matching words. But there were also some contradicting words' meaning that there are traits that people keep to themselves because they don't want people to see them as those kinds of traits because to them it would diminish the persona they built. I know for a lot of people race can really dictate the way somebody experiences life therefore shaping their identity as a person. For myself, I feel as though my race has projected my path in life. In the article The Complexity of Identity: “Who Am I?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum, he touches on the very subject of race and perception through that, "The truth is that the dominants do not really know what the experiences of the subordinates are. In contrast, the subordinates are very well informed about the dominants. Even when firsthand experience is limited by social segregation... Even the Black or Latino child living in a segregated community can enter White homes of many kinds daily via the media. However, dominant access to information about the subordinates is often limited to stereotypical depictions of the 'other'". When reading some of the summary papers that went with the vessels, more specifically the black and latino kids, they added more about their experience as a person of color. I went to a predominantly black and latino school so I can relate to the subject of seeing white kids through the internet which shaped the way I saw white people as; privileged, ignorant, living the good life but coming to BLS made me realized that this is not the case of all white kids but rather they are understanding and see the struggle of others and acknowledge them. When first coming to BLS I felt like I had to change my identity to fit in with the people around me, I was scared of being perceived as ghetto, trashy or as a stereotype of my race but when I actually got to know the people at BLS and put the right people around me I knew they wouldn't judge me for my background. The vessels also made me realize how easily we see others based on the people around us. This brings back the idea of "Us vs Them" because we so desperately do not wanna be "them" that we are willing to be hypocrites. Sometimes you end up being like the person you judge but it's because you are the same way but you don't want to seem like a bad person. Or in the same sense you might hear the people around you judge the trait of someone else that could be a trait you share and so in order to stay on the good side of that person you change your identity instead. The identity of "Us vs Them" is something humans so deeply crave that we would go above and beyond for that especially during that vital time in our lives known as puberty. It is so hard for teenagers to find their identity because at that stage in life we are trying to find our "us' ' and would do anything for that including changing who we are. In the end for humans, identity will forever be a changing mystery because we are all too different to be able to shape our identity in the short life span we humans are given but that's the beauty of identity it's what makes a person unique whether that be for the better or worse. I would like to think that the inner identity of everybody is beautiful.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Our identities are complicated. Reflecting on your own self is never fully understand who you are as a person. The world is telling you something of your identity, and your heart is telling you another. What can you say about your identity? After reading some of my peer’s statements, it made me question what they were thinking while creating this statement. The feelings that they did not feel comfortable sharing to other classmates. I noticed that in one of my peer’s vessel, she added positive things to the outside, but on the inside there were more negative traits she felt about herself. While, in another peer’s statement, her outside was similar to her inside beside the facts that you would not know about her, at first glance. People identify themselves closer to how people view them, and other people do not identify as much as how people view them.

When creating my statement I reflected on my younger self and the confusion that came with being older, Tatum states that “younger children lack the physical and cognitive development needed to reflect on the self in this abstract way.” Identity continues to grow, even when you are 99 years old in a hospital bed. His quote traces back to the adolescent feeling of not realizing that when you’re older you will encounter problems in society which you decide as your identity.

Tatum’s understanding of the Us vs. Them mentality elaborates on those “who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different…forgetting other distortions around difference, some of which we ourselves may be practicing.” Groups are important to identify ourselves, and people rely on groups to assure themselves that they fit into what the group is. As we grow older, we associate ourselves with other people and we rely on those other people to associate themselves with Us. Social media has construed this image of how certain people are supposed to act, such as race, age, sexuality, religion, and so on. If you are 80, you should be in a retirement home. If you’re gay, you’re expected to have more friends that are girls. Toxic stereotypes are formed within these groups, which then hugely identify how one is supposed to act. The system of identity can’t be based on a spectrum, it is based on how one views themselves and the people's amount of influence one decides to identify with.

Posts: 9

Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection Discussion

Similar to rica.junction’s experience, I was completely anamoured by the sheer amount of passion involved in everyone’s project. The cultural, societal, and individual aspects of everyone’s work helped me realize many parts of myself as well, as I kept going, “Ah! I should’ve said that too!” The vessels show a complex and convoluted lens of people’s identity and personal definition that only strengthened my idea of the many forms a person’s identity can be expressed as. I always knew that identities are not easy to comprehend and that someone’s values cannot be determined by the visual aspects of their person, however, witnessing the sincere expression of truth in the vessels gave me a sense of comfort because I didn’t realize how many others have such profound grasps of their identity like I did. Using this assignment as a basis, I will use the best of my ability to connect with those in my classes, attempting to understand them on a deeper level because the short time we have together during Facing History or any other class isn’t nearly enough to appreciate the individuals that share the same space I do.

I completely agree with 0_0’s comment on the mallability of our views on others, where they say:

“The vessels also made me realize how easily we see others based on the people around us.”

I’ve had my own share of assumptions and determinations about others where I’ve applied the ‘us vs. them’ mentality, and I can honestly say that I am ashamed of doing such. I know that it is natural to judge and make assumptions based on what we can observe, but it’s understated how important it is to take the effort to connect with others beyond the surface level, understanding the views and perspectives each individual has to offer. While that is my ideal goal, I know there are always limitations placed on how much one can share about their identity, grow their identity, or express it in our society. I doubt that, despite how amazing the statements along with the vessels were, people were able to show every side of themself. I think this is because of the prejudices, associations, and morality that we’ve learned to make as a society in order to preserve order, however, it severely limits how much someone can share about themselves without feeling like they’d be judged, ostracized, or silenced for having things as a part of their identity that they may not have control of. I myself have a few parts of my identity that I wasn’t able to share for the fact that it may not be viewed positively due to what society has chosen as a taboo topic, restricting what is available for me to express about myself.

As I was walking around the classroom to look at people’s vessels, I was able to write interesting parts of some people’s statements that stuck out to me that I’d like to share. First, it was warming to see how much people in the class wanted to share about themselves despite this assignment being a personal topic. There were so many intriguing and thought provoking ideas and experiences that made me feel like mine wasn’t up to par. Everyone also shared common life events or qualities such as being influenced by those around them, using words to describe both their ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ self, and having unique self reflections. This was one of the best activities I’ve done as a student and individual, I hope everyone gets to try something like this!

Charlestown, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

How does someone’s environment affect their ability to be an individual? That question has stirred up in our minds as we first started Facing History and when we started building our vessels. A huge contributor that does not allow us to be ourselves are the people we are surrounded by and our subconscious. Based on a study from The Social Animal by Eliot Aronson conducted by researchers who questioned gay men, who came from a strong Christian background, discovered how much their assertion of their homosexuality varied due to society’s negative view on homosexuals. Back then and even now many religious people thought that being a part of the LGBTQ community was a sin. Through years of being engulfed by those concepts of God hating gay people, it created dissonance. One way that people sought to deal with their dissonance was to hide and suppress their sexual/romantic desire to be with other men. Others gave up on Christianity as a whole. If not then they came to realize that the Bible spoke of empathy and kindness. God would not be able to hate someone if he had so much compassion in his heart for everyone. Another study focused on how positive or negative feedback on college student’s personalities could change their tendency of cheating when gambling. It was found that those who have received a negative evaluation of their personality (childish, boring, and superficial) tend to cheat more while those who received positive feedback on their personality did not cheat. The differentiation in how they acted highlighted the importance of honesty in one’s parents, teachers, or role models. We can talk away from these studies that the human identity is malleable. As many of us can associate with one group of people, society may not agree with these point of views. Thus causes a disruption in people that also leads to them being subliminal in their representations of themselves and limits their ability to grow. Meaning we can no longer be a part of that group and if not we end up making bad decisions to fit in.

Posts: 11

Identity Vessel Reflection

From the identity vessel project, I learned how much the people my peers are around on a daily basis influence who they are. I considered my family and friends for my identity vessel, but ultimately decided that even though they are a big part of who I am, I am mostly a reflection of my hobbies. These vessels relate to social identity because it reinforces the idea that we are influenced by the people and things around us and the various groups that we are in and the activities we are a part of. One vessel I really liked was the mason jar because I feel the same way as what I think the clear jar was conveying: that the way the world sees me and how I see myself are very similar. Because of this, when working on this project I called myself “transparent” and I think the mason jar really captures the idea of being yourself around others. There is also a contrast between the mason jar and vessels like shoeboxes or books because the inside of those vessels are fairly cut off from the outside world. Since I view myself as transparent, my vinyl had each side equally open to the world and nothing was ‘hidden’ (not that that is a bad thing, I just feel that I put who I am out in the world as much as I can). Our identity’s main job is to be malleable. What we like, who we are friends with, and what we do as a 10 year old is not going to be the same as when you are 25. Life experiences shape who we are, and as we get older, we have more life experiences and our identity changes more and more.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 1

What did you learn about your peers from their identity vessels? Were you surprised by some of the vessels? How do these vessels relate to what you have read about the concept of identity?

I've learned people perceive themselves much differently than how society views them as well. Often in human nature, we desire to satisfy others. Whether that be their feelings or actions, humans often seek the comfort of others to make themselves feel better about themselves. It is a natural desire to want to be with the community around us, and the fear of being alone is built in by human nature. In my peer's identity vessels, the contrast between their "two" identities is not always vast, but there is a difference between how they see themselves, either both negatively or positively, versus how society views them. Different people felt connections with their religion and race, while others built connections with friends and families. Everyone has built a unique identity based on the events and individuality they face. After viewing the vessels that my classmates have written, I was impressed but also amazed at seeing the different styles took to create their vessels, the words and images they associated with their identities, but also the way it meant to them and how people perceived it. I saw flags, religions, ethnicities, friends, and so much more that expressed so much to that individual. Integrating these many aspects of their lives creates that sense of identity that people have formed for themselves. It's because of this that society creates an identity on a person even when we do not really know what they actually feel. Even as we create false identities of a person, we can never know what emotions that person is feeling, the events that go on in their lives to shape them, but rather only the visual image they give us, whether it be their clothes, their face, or their hair. These vessels only show us a small portion of how people feel on both their inside and outside, and I've learned that there is only so much more to learn about the people around us. Humans always tend to assume and make silly ideals about the people around them, even when the only person they can truly know about is none other than themselves.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Personal Identity and Vessel Reflection

There are so many layers to our identities that it is hard to realize what parts of us are important and make up who we are, and what parts of us we absorb from other people. There is who we are on the inside, what we think about ourselves, our deepest darkest secrets, and things we do that we never tell anyone else. Then there is who we are on the outside, how we present ourselves to other people, our styles, makeup, hair, and how friendly or cold we are to others. Although, I think a large part of who we are on the inside is greatly influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. I can definitely say that my friends have influenced my style, who I interact with, my vernacular, and how I treat other people. But, influenced from other people can not always be a good thing. I think there is a serious fear that most people have to be show who they truly are on the inside, because of anxiety that they will be judged and excluded by other people that don't agree with their differences. The primal need to conform to societal standards and stick with the majority limits us from living our lives to the fullest and expressing who we truly are as human being each and every day. Something I found interesting from The Complexity of Identity by Beverly Daniel Tatum was the fact that when groups are separated into dominants and subordinates, when describing oneself, the dominant group tends to ignore that part of their identity, while the subordinate group acknowledges that they are part of the minority. I thought that the dominant group wouldn't necessarily take pride in being part of the majority, but they would at least recognize their privilege in that sense. This made me think about the dominant groups I identified with, and whether or not I put those parts of myself in or on my box. I realized what privileges I was lucky to have, or what subordinate groups I was a part of.

vetoed UN resolution
Posts: 10

Identity; more complex than just building blocks

Identity is such a complex thing because psychology is just as complex. How we perceive ourselves is rooted in the enigma that is human psychology. Therefore, our identities can be derived from endless directions, our past, our present, even our future. Within the identity vessels of multiple people I saw how they themselves changed their view of who exactly they are over time. Any psychologist worth their salt will tell you that we uncover unconsicious truths over time and incorporate them into their consciousness, or that changes in life will have a profound effect on said psyche. Outside of the identtiy vessels we were all tasked to show how others looked upon us, what they associated with us in terms of everything from adjectives to physical items. Many also took to discussing this in their stateements and how that affects them internally The psychology behind human social nature and how others impart upon us bits of our own identities is an often-dwelled upon subject. Some will tell you some sort of idea that our identities are akin to building blocks or legos, being clipped together to create our persona. I soundly rebuke that theory. This would imply that the building components of our identity are impregnable and unable to be adulterated, when in fact, changes in our life and our mentality can compromise the bits of their identity they previously believed was simple and unchangable. Identity is more like a righteously fierce storm, picking up and applying its own forces to all sorts of elements, moving things up and down the rotation, and always-changing.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

The thing I found most interesting when reading these articles was the idea that your identity is forever preserved on the internet. Social media both makes it incredibly easy and incredibly difficult to experiment with new identities or become a different person, but also incredibly difficult to separate from your past self. With the eternal preservation of our past selves, on social media or the photo albums of our parents, or even the memories of childhood friends that we haven't seen in years, it can be hard to change who you are, no matter how much you may want to. In the article "How Social Media Shapes Our Identity" by Nausicaa Renner she says "What are the ramifications when an entire generation never gets the chance to experiment freely or to remake themselves?" There is a freedom in being able to share things about yourself online, but in some ways it is also a trap. When you are a child that doesn't fully understand the concept of the internet, being able to post pictures of yourself can be incredibly damaging to your future self. Personally, when I look back at what I was posting on the internet when I was 11 or 12, I cringe at what I see. Like most modern technology, it is a double edged sword.

Something I saw on a lot of these identity vessels was the presence of pride flags, and it made me think about what we learned in class about the idea of safety in numbers. Being queer is something that is not the majority or something that would lead to any benefits in one's life, it is actually something that leads to a lot of danger, and yet it is a fact about so many people that they choose to be proud of, myself included. This reminded me about the idea of safety in numbers because so many queer people that I know are friends with a majority of other queer people, because this shared part of our identity draws us to other people like us. Another thing I saw on the identity vessels was a lot of adjectives being used to describe how people see you vs. how you see yourself. The one I remember most prominently was Sebastian's, because the majority of his vessel was these adjectives. I thought it was really interesting and a really cool interpretation of the idea of how people see you, because that often is described in a serise of adjectives.

Fig Leaf Tree
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Our identities are multi-dimensional, and cause pride, conflict, and change because no one has a one-dimensional identity. Almost all of us have what Beverly Daniel Tatum describes as dominant and subordinate aspects of identity, and inconsistencies between the way we view ourselves and how we are outwardly perceived. However, media portrayals and stereotypes would have us think that identity is more simple, consistent, and easier to classify and generalize.

As teenagers, many of us have undergone “the biological changes associated with puberty, the maturation of cognitive abilities, and changing societal expectations” (Tatum 1) that have led to the internal conflicts that arise when we try to categorize ourselves, or find where we fit in. After these biological developments, our minds are more self-conscious in identifying where we belong in society. Some people may seek community and celebration of their various identities, while others try to adapt to a dominant culture’s standards or don’t even notice aspects of their identity. Others may encounter the privileges they hold when they consider what dominant groups they are apart of, as mentioned by “universaldeclarationofhumanrights<3.” All of these factors can make identity seem uncomfortable to talk about at this age, but this project made that conversation more inviting because we all shared some amount of vulnerability by making a statement of who we are.

This project made me dive into my privileges, and the vast differences between how I am perceived and my true personal identity. For example, I have privileges related to my appearance, which does not match the skin tones often associated with people of my ethnicity. I noticed details about sensitivity to perception of race on the vessels of some other biracial classmates, which made me feel less alone in that aspect of my identity. Additionally, I was surprised by some of the childhood experiences that shaped the lives of my classmates whose vessels I viewed. Many people included their countries of origin, pictures of family or childhood friends, and details related to their interests growing up. I did not know some of these details about them, but I can see or imagine how they impact their current interests and values. As a teenager, I often would like to think that I decide my personality and habits day-to-day, but viewing other people’s vessels made me reflect on how my own past experiences and my relatives impact my behavior and outlook. Our identities do change over time, especially as we are surrounded by different groups of people, but the way we were raised and the values our families held can strongly impact us throughout our lives.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

I think it was very intriguing to see how different people interpreted this assignment because there was not much unison which is awesome because this is a true display of who you are. I loved seeing the fact that there were people from the same place that mother and father are from however I can't really target the reasoning but it made me happy. I think this perfectly aligns with the article "The Complexity of Identity" because it is awesome to see people of the same nationality be proud of that nationality. However because being of that nationality isn't the norm it is emphasized with the people that carry that nationality. I also noticed that there were a lot of baseball oriented projects which amazed me because I did not know that the sport was so popular at BLS. I understand being in Boston sports are massive but I never realized the amount of people who enjoy baseball.

I think the best project that I saw was the lamp shade because it was honestly genius. I think the concept that people are so bright that it is hard to see into their lives is a great way to capture what identity mean to everyone. That project in particular was so innovative and it was awesome to see something so creative and thoughtful. I think the concept kind of reminded me that although one may think they are just one in nine billion, it is reassuring to see and hear that each and everyone of us is different and perceives things differently.

To reflect a little on the project itself I think that an identity is something that is very malleable because like the article said some people aren't willing to share some aspects of their identity for whatever reason. I think that idea is definitely malleable and I also think that being able to mold into these amazing people is malleable but I think it is also just natural for the person. I might not like the style that some else carries but that does not mean that I won't rock a similar sweater.

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