Covering Paper #1

Covering happens when people of a certain group feel they need to hide who they are in order to refrain from harm or judgement. As Yoshino puts it, it means “To tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream,” (479). He uses the terms true self and false self throughout his book in order to exhibit his ideas on covering and when it occurs. From reading his article what comes to my attention most are the two terms listed above, equality paradigm and liberty paradigm. These four words are essential for answering the questions, In what kinds of circumstances would a person need to hide a part of their identity? What might hiding a part of their identity do to and for a person – both in those particular circumstances and over time? And what might a society gain and lose when a person covers a part of their identity over time?
The civil rights law protects the groups like race, sex, orientation, religion and disabilities, which is one of Yoshino’s significant points throughout his book. “Law is also an incomplete solution to coerced assimilation because it has yet to recognize myraid groups subjected to covering demands outside traditional civil rights classifications like race, sex, orientation, religion, and disability. Whenever I speak about covering, I receive new instances of identities that can be covered. This is Winnicott’s point- each one of us has a False Self that hides a True one. The law may someday move to protect some of these identities. But it will never protect them all,” (486).
Yoshino’s point regarding the law also connects to another one of his quotes, “For these reasons, I am troubled that Americans seem increasingly to turn toward the law to do the work of civil rights precisely when they should be turning away from it. The real solution lies in all of us as citizens, not in the tiny subset of us who are lawyers. People who are not lawyers should have reason-forcing conversations outside the law,” (487).
A false self is when someone pretends to be something they’re not, which can happen for many reasons; popularity, legal, etc. A true self is when someone acts how they normally do and doesn’t pretend to be something they’re not. In circumstances such as the Holocaust, Jewish people wanted to hide their identity to stay alive. A person might try to hide their identity at a job interview or an event of significance to prevent them from getting in trouble. Overtime if a person hides their identity they may lose track of who they are, whether it’s good or bad, or it can shape them into the person they’re hoping to be.
Society is exceptional at making people hide their identity in order to fit the standards. However when this happens it causes unique people to be lost and silenced, when the person could have benefitted a certain cause, we have a loss of potential. What is gained from society is a dominant group of people looking and acting a certain way, everything is orderly and predictable. “In practice, I expect the liberty paradigm to protect the authentic self better than tthe equality paradigm. While it need not do so, the equality paradigm is prone to essentializing the identities it protects. Under an equality paradigm, if a woman who wore a lot of makeup were protected by a court because makeup is an “essential” part of being a woman, this could reinforce the stereotype that women wear makeup,” (485).
Covering is beneficial to learn about because we can understand our own actions and if we do in fact have a false self, or if we are trying to hide ourselves. It also brings attention to what civil rights laws have done for certain people of different classifications so they feel safe. In order for people to have a true self all the time they need to feel comfortable expressing who they are without discrimination.