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Education And Identity Essay

1118 words - 4 pages

Within our society, there are a variety of degrading identities that are too often assumed upon people. Because of this occurrence, an individual has little control on how the general public views them. However, one deciding factor that can change how you are portrayed to society is your knowledge and education. Through education, individuals can break free from society’s expectations and achieve opportunities to impact the world around them.
Despite society’s conception on individuals, education provides a resolution to change the assumed identity given to them. Hundreds of years ago, social status was genuinely set in stone; noble families stayed in power while workers and peasants struggled to get by. As more and more advancements in fields of studies were published, knowledge became the deciding factor to change where an individual stood in society. As societies progressed with time, education gradually went hand in hand with success which caused many people to focus on their knowledge of the world. As slavery became common in the United States, slaves were expected to be uneducated and remain slaves for the remainder of their lives. However, Frederick Douglass used education to defy his assumed identity; he broke the stereotype and created a new name for himself. At a young age, Douglass realized “the pathway from slavery to freedom” was in fact education; the knowledge he craved so much was what separated him from freemen. With the recognition of the solution, Douglass was able to educate himself and become one of the most successful black men in history. Such cases of defying social assumptions can still be seen to this day. Stereotypes often set limitations on what an individual can accomplish, pointing fingers stating that “only males can do this” or “Native Americans can’t do that.” Education has the power to remove those limitations. Sherman Alexie, a successful Native American author, writes about the importance of knowledge and the liberation it can bring to the younger generations who face stereotypes. Growing up with pressures about his future and image, Alexie found himself drawn to reading. Not only did reading bring him pleasure, but he found purpose in his new found hobby, “I was trying to save my life.” Reading brought him new knowledge and that constant learning impacted his life to break away from what society expected him to be; a lazy, slacking young man who cared little for education. In both scenarios, two men change how they are perceived in society, becoming someone people thought they couldn’t be. Malcom X is yet another example of how education can break assumed identities. Growing up with a troubled background, Malcom X found himself an illiterate young man stuck behind the cold bars of prison. In this time, he did not sulk. He did quite the opposite; he matured. The community expected Malcom X to stay uneducated, to be the same man he was when he entered that cell block. They were wrong. With the use of books,...

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