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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Feel free to express identity

Published: October 31, 2014
Section: Opinions

Recently, a case arose where a woman was convicted and ridiculed for placing a Mexican flag representing her heritage on her front lawn. A political activist walking by her house confronted and interrogated her through the window and said, “We live in America! You can move to Mexico if you want to wave your Mexican flag.” Keep in mind that this woman of Mexican heritage had also placed an American flag on the same lawn directly opposite the Mexican flag; it represented her appreciating both parts of her identity. Constitutional law grants us freedom of expression. It seems as though in our society, the foundation of “freedom” is not something that is always established. No individual should have to deal with the fear of judgment as a result of representing their culture through symbolic ethnicity. My fear lies in the appearance of a world where race and ethnicity continue to control how we think and relate to each other.

America has historically been a country composed of immigrants from around the world. People have taken pride in the fact that they can be part of their established ethnic identity while being an American at the same time. When will we know when we have reached a utopian world where everyone is accepted for who they are despite their physical and racial features, cultural foundation and ethnic origin? The answer to this question is left in the hands of the future leaders of tomorrow. We must change what occurs within our domestic environment before we begin to effect change in the rest of the world. Everyone must generate a desire to create a society based on the equilibrium of all political, social and economic aspects of life.

We have to wake up to these injustices and realize that we are an evolving society. Our overarching social goal as a country should be focused on creating a safe environment where every individual has the right to his or her own expression and identity. Although America has surpassed other countries in providing its citizens genuine freedom, we should still continue to desire to promote an equal and safe environment.

Expecting to solve conflicts such as war and religious persecution won’t be a possibility if we still let race and ethnicity affect our relationships. The person who confronted this woman defended herself by claiming she was not racist but simply a patriot. A person cannot simply forget the place where they were born or strip themselves of their identity under the claim of patriotism. A lack of ethnic acceptance of others will keep our society from significantly progressing at great rates because if the color of someone’s skin or their language dominates their character, then racial tension and conflict will persist.

If barriers of national identity control how we relate and communicate, then we will never see what it means to dwell in a place where everyone is an integral part of society. I believe that life should always be about how we can improve ourselves or help the next person improve. We have to accept the fact that people come from different ethnic backgrounds but that does not take away from their personality. I believe we should let people express themselves as long as they cause no physical harm to other members of society. We have to understand that as a population we must join together in unity, under the notion that we are all human beings. In unity, we can overcome any issue that presents itself.

Once we discover the meaning of life and how liberty is something everyone is guaranteed, then we may start to approach the ideal utopian society. If you want to openly express your identity, whether it is race, sex or ethnicity, do it! We as a people must learn to appreciate our differences. What would the world be like If everyone was exactly the same? Let’s take on a new perspective and see that in our differences, we are all special in many different ways.