Synthesis Essay

977 words - 4 pages

Despite the world being full of diverse people with varying accomplishments and skill sets, people oftentimes assume the qualities and traits of an individual based purely on the stereotypes set forth by society. Although these stereotypes are unavoidable, an individual can be liberated, empowered and ultimately overcome these stereotypes by obtaining an advanced education.

Stereotypes that are created by society can control how people view an individual and how that individual views themself. “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid.” (Source B) Sherman Alexie shows the low educational standard set forth by society’s stereotypes of Indians, and later goes on to explain the low educational expectations the Indians had for themselves when he says “Those who failed were ceremoniously accepted by other Indians and appropriately pitied by non-Indians.” (Source B) Likewise, in Source D, Maya Angelou says, “Hadn’t he heard the white folks? We could not be so the question was a waste of time…There was no “nobler in the mind” for Negroes because the world didn’t think we had minds, and they let us know it.” (Source D) Maya Angelou observes what the speaker at graduation seemingly doesn’t: that their entire school was stereotyped based on their race by the white speakers, and it ruined the day she had been looking forward to for years. The white speakers at her graduation make it abundantly clear that they only really care about supporting the athletic department of their school since that’s all they believe the students are capable of being successful at. Both Source B and D report what was expected of the authors by society based on stereotypes. They were both expected to be unintelligent, purely based on their races. But with the help of education, any stereotypes can be overcome.

Education helps an individual to create a self-identity and dissuades them from conforming to the stereotypes that society places on them. “As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish…It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out…The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness…I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm.” (Source A) This passage by Frederick Douglass shows how reading and learning helped him to create a new identity: the identity of a slave set on escape. By educating himself, Frederick Douglass made a new identity for himself that ultimately led to his escape. His education gave him a reason to keep living. “I...

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