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Babson,Wurster,Harris,Little 1

Hope Babson, Kaitlyn Wurster, Zoe Harris, Colin Little

Mr. Turley
English I
13 November 2015
Cultural Identity Creates Ones Fate
Cultural identity is the way a person is viewed based upon his or her race, religion, gender or
social class. People often judge one another by their looks, background or their ethnicity.
Additionally, cultural identity is often defined by belonging to a specific culture. In the play
Romeo and Juliet, the Montagues and the Capulets have been fighting for so long that their last
names have become synonymous with their cultural identities. Their very names elicit feelings of
hatred towards one another. Their feud is described as from ancient grudge break to new
mutiny. Clearly, the Montagues and the Capulets cultural identities led to numerous problems.
Modern day cultural identity can also lead to prejudice, group stereotyping, religious
discrimination, gender inequality and ultimately intense conflict.
Cultural identity can give rise to prejudice. In 1860 the United States was home to 3,953,760
slaves. The slaves were brought to America from Africa in order to farm cotton, tobacco and
other crops. Plantation owners, primarily in the South, used the manpower to become wealthy
while the slaves lived in horrible conditions. In this example the culture and birth location of
these people created their fate. The slave traders captured them and their families and forced
them into slavery. Being a slave almost always guaranteed them a life of poverty with no access
to healthcare, education, and basic necessities.
Prior to 1964 African Americans and Caucasians were segregated in the United States.
African Americans could not dine, lodge or go to school with caucasians. They could not utilize

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public restrooms, libraries or transportation. Being a part of African American culture during this
time had a large impact on their fate. It is not to say African Americans could not be successful,
rather if they were successful it would be within their own community. Unfortunately, cultural
identity created their fate by not allowing them to be well educated and without access to
resources necessary for success.
Cultural identity can lead to group stereotyping. When did people begin to stereotype
groups? Stereotyping groups has been around since the start of recorded history. In the Bible, the
Jews stereotyped the Romans because they were different. Why do we stereotype groups? We
stereotype groups because of differences with ourselves and our groups. Oftentimes there is
something that scares us about them. For example, the KKK spread propaganda insisting that all
black men were rapists and murderers. One reason for spreading propaganda was that white men
were scared they were going to lose their jobs to black men, so they decided to join together and
found ways to put down African Americans. Parts of the South became rich through the labor of
slaves. When slavery ended, were the strong racist feelings towards blacks, which took hundreds
of years to build, just going to disappear? Certainly not. Racial groups were formed and
segregation was put into effect because of skin color. The people with racist feelings often did
not even know the people they hated. They just knew they were of a different cultural identity
and they stereotyped them as being inferior.
Religion is often a major part of one's identity. On September 11, 2001 the United States
suffered the loss of 2,977 citizens during the collapse of the Twin Towers. The Muslim terrorist
group known as the Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. For the last fourteen years the cultural
identity of terrorists has shaped many Muslims fate. The twenty-first century generations link
the believers of Allah with Al Qaeda. On September 22, 2015 a fourteen year old Muslim boy,

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Ahmed Mohamed, brought a handmade digital clock to school. Ahmed was proud of his work
and wanted to impress his teachers. One of the teachers in the school called the police because he
or she believed Ahmed was a suicide bomber. The local police department arrested Ahmed for
bringing a weapon to school. All charges were dropped after the investigation but the damage to
Ahmeds reputation was done. This situation arose because of stereotypes coming from the
events of 911. A similar situation was displayed in the play Romeo and Juliet. In act 2, scene
2, Romeo explained I trust your words. Just call me your love, and I will take a new name.
From now on I will never be Romeo again. (William Shakespeare). Romeo is willing to change
his name because the name of his family affects his future with Juliet. Therefore ones cultural
identity can influence ones fate.
Cultural identity can often result in conflicts.Why do people fight over cultural identity? One
reason is that they feel they have been discriminated against. A perfect example would be what
happened in Ferguson, Missouri. A young African American man, Michael Brown, was killed by
a police officer after stealing from a local store. Shortly after the shooting, riots started all over
the country. The riots began during the first stage of the investigation. The protestors/rioters
believed that Michael Brown said, hands up, dont shoot. The investigations by the State and
Federal governments determined otherwise. African Americans all over the country felt
discriminated against because of their cultural identity. In fact there was racism found in the
police department of Ferguson, Missouri, but the officer involved was found to be justified in the
shooting of Michael Brown. People became very angry and took to the streets looting, rioting
and protesting. They felt mistreated because of their cultural identity. They felt that they had
good cause to protest. Clearly, cultural identity led to these conflicts.

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In conclusion, it is unfortunate that people are stereotyped because of their religion, race, sex
and/or place of birth. Prejudice, discrimination and inequality are the main factors why people
view each other with a judgmental mindset.
Work Cited Page
9/11 Attacks. A&E Television Networks. 04 Nov. 2015.
Alcindor, Yamiche.Ferguson Shooting: Myths vs.Facts. USA Today.
Gannett, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Nov.2015.
Slavery in America. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 22 Nov.2015.
Gender Equality. UNFPA.N.p,n.d. Web. 22 Nov.2015.