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AminaYoussef

AnInvisibleForceField

Socializationistheprocessbywhichallagesoflifelearnfromothersonhowtobehaveinaway
thatissociallyacceptable.Societyhascreatedaprocess,calledthecycleofsocialization,thatwill
consumeanyindividualslife,whethertheyknowitornot.Itsatrap,pullingpeopleinwithits
everlastinginfluenceonlife.Thistrapcanbebothbeneficialanddetrimental,withitssevensocialidentity
categoriesthatdefinewhoyouareasaperson.Thesecategoriesconsistofrace,gender,age,religion,
sexualorientation,socioeconomicclass,andability/disability.Dependingonwhereonemayfallinthese
categories,heorsheiseitherplacedinatargetgrouporanagentgroup.Dependingonthecategory,
targetgroupsarethepeopleinsocietywhoareatadisadvantage.Agentgroupsarethepeoplein
societywhoareatanadvantage.Forexample,insexualorientation,gaysorlesbiansareconsidered
targets,andpeoplewhoarestraightareconsideredagents.Thisisunfair,yetthiscyclecontinues,and
willkeepgoinguntilweallmakeanefforttoachieveequalitybetweenthesetwogroups.Asayoung
privilegedMuslim,Ihavebeensocializedinnumerousways,bybeingtaughttohidemyrace,my
religion,andtothinkdifferentlyaboutmyfinancialclass,inordertopromotemypublicimagetoothers.
Comingfromafamilywithadifferentracethanthemajority,Ihavebeensocializedtothinkof
myselfasdifferent,insteadoftryingtoembracemyculturalbackground.Ifeelasifracismisonlyan
ideatransferredthroughgenerations.Withoutsocialization,itsimplycouldnotbespread.Mydadisfull
Egyptian,andmymomishalfCroatianandhalfIrish.ThatmakesmehalfEgyptian,onefourth
Croatian,andonefourthIrish.Asaresultofthismix,Ihavebig,curly,AfricanAmericanhair,tanskin,
andtwosiblingsthatlookdifferentinthesamewaythatIdo.Iamluckytogrowupinatownwhere
mosteveryoneisaccepting,butthatdoesntmeanoutsideofthistownitisthesame.Jennifer,whoisan
eighteenyearoldAfricanAmericanwoman,spokeinthevideocalledAGirlLikeMe,andstated,
SinceIwasyounger,Ialsoconsideredlighterasaformofbeauty,oryouknow,morebeautifulthan
beingdarkskinned.SoIusedtothinkofmyselfasbeinguglybecauseIwasdarkskinned.AsJennifer
spoke,onecouldhearthenegativeeffectsofsocializationrollingoffhertongue,andtellbyherfacial
expressionsthatthesenegativeeffectshaveimpactedJenniferinhereverydaylife.Ibelievethatjudging
peoplebecauseoftheircoloriswrong.Itdoesntmatterwhichcolordoesthehating,becauseeither
wayitisworsethanjudgingabookbyitscoveritisjudgingeverybookbyitscover.Ihavebeen
socializedtobelieveifsomeoneiswhitethanheorsheisautomaticallybeautiful,smart,wealthy,and
haveagoodlifeawaitingthem.Theseareallfalsejudgments.Thetruthisnohumanraceissuperior,and
allmenarecreatedequally.Themythssurroundingtheseperceptionshaveoccurredasaresultof
socialization.Yetthesemythswillkeepgettingpassedthroughgenerations,becausethatishowthis
ongoingcycleofsocializationworks.
GrowingupinDurango,atownintheSouthwesterncornerofColoradowithpracticallyno
racialdiversity,Ihavebeensocializedtohidethereligioussideofmyselffromthepubliceye.Iama
Muslim,althoughmyfamilyisnotveryreligious.ThismightbedifferentifIlivedintheMiddleEast,but
growingupinatownwithaverysmallpopulationofMuslims,myfamilyhasbeensocializedtokeep
ourreligionathome.Sincetherearenomosquestoprayin,eversinceIwaslittleIhavewatchedmy
dadprayeverymorning,onthecarpetinhiscloset.Iusedtoimagineprayingonedayjustlikehim.I
havealwayswonderedwhatitwouldhavebeenliketobemydad,growingupinafullEgyptianfamily.
HelearnedasetofnormsthatIwillneverlearn,onlybecausemymomisCatholic.Whenmyparents
gotmarriedtheydecidedtoraiseuskidsasMuslims,althoughwestillareabletocelebratecertain
holidayssuchasHalloween,Christmas,andEaster.Thisway,IfollowthebasicrulesofIslamaswellas
celebratetheholidaysthateveryoneelseadoreseachyear.SinceSeptember11,2001,American
societyhasmadeitseemasifallMuslimsmustbeterrorists.Despitethefactthatthesegeneralizations
aremade,andthatAmericanshavebecomelesstolerantofreligiousdifferences,Ibelievemyreligionis
relevantandworthyofrespect.Americaisacountrythatwasfoundedtorecognizethevalueof
differentbeliefs,anditismyhopethatAmericanswillneverlosesightofthatfoundingprinciple.Islam
meanspeaceandbeingMuslimisbeinginclusiveofothers.IagreewithGeorgeCarlin,anAmerican
standupcomedian,whostated,Religionislikeapairofshoes...Findonethatfitsforyou,butdon't
makemewearyourshoes.
MywholelifeIhavebeentaughtbysocietytobelievethatonehastohavemoneytobe
successful,butIhavelearnedfrommyfatherthatthegreatestsuccesscanbebornfromnothing.When
mydadgrewuphedidnthavealargeamountofmoney.Hisdadwasaprofessorandhismomwasan
interiordesigner.Theymovedcountlesstimesduringhischildhood,andmydadhadtoadapttoanew
physicalandsocialsettingmultipletimes.Hemovedwithhisfamilyfivetimesbeforefinallysettlingdown
inBerkeley,Californiatobeginhislifeasacollegestudent.Incollege,mydadpaidforoverhalfofhis
collegetuition,andthenlatertookoutloansinordertopayforfourmoreyearsofmedicalschool.My
dadbuiltasuccessfullifeforhimselfwithhardwork,dedication,acommitmenttohiseducationand
willpower.VinceLombardi,anoldAmericanfootballcoach,onceclaimed,Thedifferencebetweena
successfulpersonandothersisnotalackofstrength,notalackofknowledge,butratheralackofwill.
Inmyopinion,anyoneisabletobesuccessfuliftheyhaveenoughdriveandenoughpassion.Iam
privilegedbecausemydadhasbuiltawonderfullifeformyfamily,butbeingsocializedtobe
hardworking,IknowIwilldothehardworkinordertobesuccessfulincollege,andanyprofessionmy
heartdesires.TherateofwealthypeopleintheUnitedStatesisdropping,partiallybecauseAmericans
arelackinganinterestineducation.IhavebeensocializedtobelievethatIammoreluckythanothers,
becauseIhaveenoughmoneytoaffordexpensessuchascollege.Peoplearoundmeseemtothinkthat
IcandoandhavewhateverIwantbecauseofmywealth,howeverthatisnotnecessarilytrue.Thereis
somuchmoretosuccessthanhavingwealth.AgrowingproblemisthatfewerAmericansaremotivated
toachievehighlevelsofsuccess.Youdontneedtobeageniusorbewealthytobesuccessful,but
whatyoudoneedisapassionatedreamandthewillingnesstoworkhard.
Thecycleofsocializationisasystemofnormsandvaluesthatgiveoursocietyitsstructure,
almostlikeaninvisibleforcefieldhoveringoverEarth.Thereisnowaytoremoveitbecauseitisnt
visible,yetithasshapedusintothepeoplewearetoday.However,justlikeinthemovies,thereisa
waytobreakthroughthisforcefield,butinthiscasethepowerliesinourownheartsandourown
minds.LikeBobbyHarrosaid,wecantdothisalone.Wecanstopsocializationalltogether,byliving
outthefoundingprinciplethatdiversitymakesAmericastronger.Wecanbegintofullyaddressracism
inoureverydaylives,andwecanrefusetoacceptstereotypesandjudgmentbasedonrace,religion,
andsocioeconomicstatus.Asanindividual,Icanstoptakingcommentsaboutmyraceasanegative
perception,andstartthinkingofthemasaprivilegetobedifferent.Icanbegintoshowpeoplethatmy
religionisapartofthehumanmakeup,avaluablepartofmanyAmericansculture,andanimportant
partoftheworldsintellectualhistory.Notonlythat,butIcanprovetopeoplethatbeingbornintoa
familythathasalreadyclimbedthesocioeconomicladder,doesnotmeanIdonthavetoworkashard
tobesuccessful.Somemightthinkthesolutiontobreakingthisforcefieldliesbeyondourselves.
However,wedontneedtolookanyfartherthanwhatlieswithineachofus.

MyMask:

MymaskrepresentsthestereotypesofatypicalAfricanAmericanversusatypicalAmerican.
Notonlythat,butitrepresentswhoIamsinceIamhalfEgyptian.Ipaintedmymaskhalfwhiteandhalf
browntorepresentthesestereotypes,andtoshowwhoIamonapersonallevel.Thereareskigoggles
overtheeyestorepresentthatalthoughIamshowingtwodifferentsidesofmyself,theyarebonded
togetherbythegogglescreateone.Thereisamosqueonmyforeheadtorepresentmyreligion,anda
graduationhattorepresentmyexpectationsformyselfforthefuture.Thereisamoneysignonthewhite
cheektorepresentthestereotypethatwhitepeoplearemoreprivileged.AlsothereisanEgyptianflag
overhalfofthemouth,withanAmericanflagovertheother,toshowmyraceandcultures.