paper #1

What is an identity? Each person that is asked that question may assume different things such as, a legal identity, a personality, or what they think of themselves. Kwame Appiah’s “Why identity is a lie we can’t live without” and John Gravois’s “A Toast Story” helps us answer three general questions about identities, What is an identity? What do they do for us? Why do they matter?


In Gravois’s “A Toast Story,” he leads the conversation by talking about the start of the popularity of toast in San Francisco. He then begins talking about Giulietta Carrelli and her schizophrenic condition. She has episodes where she will forget where she is and won’t know what’s going on.  When she opened trouble she began talking to every person that walked in the door to create a network of people who know who she is and can recognize her. She wears the same clothes everyday so people will see her and identify her as the owner of Trouble. This is the first key concept that starts to answer the three key questions.


To Guilettia, her identity does matter immensely because she depends on people to recognize her on the streets when she’s having an episode. To other people, Carelli’s identity lets other people who know her, help her. It also gives them the opportunity to start a conversation with her when someone sees her because she will always be known as the owner or trouble and whether or not people know her personally or from a news article, it allows people to get to know and understand her identity. “Trouble is a tool for keeping her alive. I’m trying to stay connected to the self, she says. Like one of her old notebooks, the shop has become an externalized set of reference points, an index of Carrelli’s identity. It is her greatest source of dependable routine and her most powerful means of expanding her network of friends and acquaintances, which extends now to the shop’s entire clientele.”


In Appiah’s “Why an identity is a lie we can’t live without” he interviews Sean Illing about identities. They talk about all the different kinds of identities have. First being political, people will always assume your choices are based on what side your on, which is inescapable. They also talk about people’s sexual preference as an identity. People can identify as any way they want to but people will also think of this when they speak of you, this topic is also inescapable. The whole point of the interview is to find out why an identity is a lie we can’t live without. An identity can be a lie because no one person has only one identity, everyone has different identities to different people and in different places. Also, people can assume your identity based on what people have heard, which is also a lie because then that person doesn’t know the real you.


People will also categorize someone by their race/ ethnicity, “If you allow your identity to be totally shaped by your opposition to a dominant culture, as many racial group have done because of the history of racism and xenophobia, you can become locked into that minority status. The first time a group becomes conscious of itself as an important social group, it is because they realize that they’re all being subjected to something.” Ultimately, classifying other people shows your true identity and what you think about them.


When Illing was asked why he called an identity a lie in the lie his response was, “There’s something misleading or mistaken about the pictures that underlie these identities and yet they bind us together in spite of that. They do bring people together, as well as divide people, and i think that the lies, the untruths, are often a very important part of how they work. They’re important to how people are held together. What he means by this is everyone will categorize people into what they think, or what they know you are; It’s second nature to do this.


Both of these articles provide necessary information to answer the three most important questions. Once we can understand ourselves and other people, then do we really get to understand someone’s true identity to you and to other people. Reading these articles were helpful to understand how we answer the questions and how we think about ourselves and other people around us. It shows us why then matter and how other people can be affected by what our identities are.

Essay 1 prewrite (write all plans/ words down on page)


Every single person in the world no matter race, skin color, or origin all share something in common; we all have identities. Identities are essential to our salvation as human beings. They separate us from the other 7.5 billion people who inhabit the world with us. Identities make us unique from other people but they change based off of many things including location, the government, sports, jobs, etc…



  • More details
  • Be more specific
  • Go more in depth on what it means to have an identity
  • Really get the reader engaged (better hook)
  • Put in more statistical relevance to make sure this topic is relevant to all people.


Body Paragraph(s):

Identities differentiate us from the general population some in good ways and others in bad ways. An example of a bad way would be the Unabomber. A name created for a criminal who terrorized the United States for decades  by sending packages to high authority figures that contained makeshift bombs inside. His real identity Ted Kaczynski. But do people really get to shape their own identities? At first no, your parents name you when you are a child but after that initial first identity given to you by your parents you are given another one to you by the government known as your social security number. While you’re growing up you are given common identities based off your strengths and weaknesses observed by your peers. Some include nerd, geek, genius, freak, jock, and so on. But really you can only shape the way your identities are given to you.



  • Quotes: “… we have multiple identities and multiple points of contact with other people, and it’s almost never true that there is no shared ground at all.” (Appiah)
    • “If you allow your identity to be totally shaped by your opposition to a dominant culture, as many racial groups have done because of the history of racism and xenophobia, you can become locked into that minority status. The first time a group becomes conscious of itself as an important social group, it is because they realize that they’re all being subjected to something. But if you define yourself through the act of opposition, then you’re letting the oppressors set the terms.” (Appiah)
    • This seems like an important point, because I think we tend to think of identity as intractable or fixed, and so we get locked into these labels and they come to define us and define our conflicts with one another. But as you say, we have multiple identities and multiple points of contact with other people, and it’s almost never true that there is no shared ground at all.” (Illing)
  • Explain the quotes and the relevance to the articles/identity
  • Add more depth / make sure it relates to context / peoples lives
  • Use more transition words
  • Keep reader engaged the whole time


  • Maintain the flow throughout the article
  • Keep reader engaged / relevance to identity
  • Reference conclusion section in TS/IS and in the Little Seagull Handbook

What is an identity? Paper First Draft

Identity is a weird thing. It is totally exclusive to its owner. Just like a fingerprint, they are shaped by a kaleidoscope of factors. Which seems kind of random at times, like why should seeing a scary movie about boats as a child make me scared of them for 10 years. This random event made me miss out on things that would have Further developed my identity, like seeing Murder Boat XIV: Return of Bob the Blood Boat™ with my friends or going on that boat trip with my family. So, what has my identity done? On that note why do they even matter? Why can’t we all be biological machines completely devoid of any sense of identity? It is our anchor. In a turbulent sea that is life, an identity grounds us somewhere. From there we can branch out and develop relationships with other people. Soon entire groups of people kept afloat in the sea of life altogether.


So, what is an identity? In my opinion, it is some total of all your experiences, relationships, likes, dislikes, thoughts, origins, and, surroundings. Now it is entirely random which one will have the greatest effect on your personality and most of the time it varies from person to person. Mostly it matters on what they take away from these pieces that make their identity. So, for instance, if someone really values being the type of person who likes the color aquamarine and builds their life around it. It will affect what kind of experiences they have, how they interpret their origins, and, what they dislike. It’s so hard to say what has an exact effect on how someone identifies themselves. Because someone could just choose to disengage with a massive part of their identity like how they hate their origin, but is that really disengaging from that part of their identity or increasing how much of their identity that is define by it?


Ok so, what do identities do for us. Well, I said previously I think they anchor us to the world. It’s a survival strategy essentially. If we have a fear of losing ourselves it makes us more invested in our lives. It gives us a reason to feel emotions and to change things. So, we have this cumulative process of building on ourselves by which we can extrapolate purpose. Were able to be more than we’re supposed to be because in all honesty nature just wants us to be reproducers and if that’s all we were with conscious minds. We would just kill ourselves in all likelihood.


Identities matter because they’re more than the sum of their parts. They’re not just random tidbits about someone or accidental coincidences growing up. We are our identities and they drive us for better or for worse. They push us to see more, they push us to do more, and, they push us to feel more.

Free write activity

Ryan DeLuca

I typed everything that came to my mind.

After reading the story about toast I feel like I have a better understanding of what consists of one’s identity. I feel your identity is created by your actions, they may not be intentional but your actions have a role in how you create or how someone may create your identity. In the toast story there is a woman named Ginuietta Carrelli, she had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder seems to be difficult to deal with but Carrelli strong will to change her self-image from a maniac to a trust worth hardworking business woman is a powerful story to tell. Her story about being kicked to the curb by multiple employers and landlords because they didn’t understand her disorder really makes you lose faith in today’s society. Until she starts talking about how she talked to an old man who sun bathed in the sun every day in the same spot, she started talking to him more after she moved back from college and the small conversations they had made a big difference in Carrelli’s health. She had been drinking and was self-medicated at the time and wanted to improve herself and re-shape her image. So she started making connections and started talking to more people on that same beach. Carrelli was homeless and was found sleeping on the floor of the coffee shop she was currently working at, the coffee shop owner recommended to Carrelli that she is ready to open her own coffee shop, so she started talking to people around the china beach area, she had talked to the old man that sunbathed in the same spot everyday and he encouraged her to follow her dream of opening a coffee shop, so she went to the city and asked for advise on opening a small business and borrowed some money to purchase and renovate a small building that she wouls turn into a coffee shop and name “Trouble”. I like her store name and menu because it has meaning behind it. The word “Trouble” she came up with because of the people that helped her when she was in “Trouble”. Her menu items seem peculiar but have meaning behind them as well. She serves coconuts, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice that she named yoko because of the high source of vitamin C, the toast on her menu represents comfort, toast represents comfort because it reminds her of home because her mom used to make her for her as a kid. Her coffee represents communication and speed because when you drink coffee your brains speed increases and you have better communication. The coconuts on her menu represent survival because this is what she lived off of when he was having a hard time with money, she lived off of grapefruit juice and coconuts for about three years. Carrelli made her shop her identity she shaped the way people look at her and what people think of her, she made her coffee shop part of her life story and her hardship she had before she managed to pull herself out of her bad situation. This is a great example of how you shape your identity, she is now known as a strong independent woman who despite her disorder pulled herself out of a hole and started filling it in.

I can’t relate to pulling myself out of a situation like Carrelli’s but I can relate to shaping how and what people think of me. When I was a sophomore in Highschool someone made a comment on my clothes, my regular wardrobe at the time was a comfortable I usually wore baggy clothes that looked to big on me, and at the time I was almost two hundred pounds, I didn’t particularly like the clothes I wore they weren’t really my style, ive tried on clothes that are more my style but they just didn’t fit comfortably. With my weight I became self-conscious about what other people thought the clothes that I didn’t particularly like but didn’t really put that much thought into it. I really wanted to lose weight because I didn’t like how big I was, and I wanted to be able to dress in my style of clothes and fit comfortably in them in order to do that I had to drop drop a letter size and 3 inches around my waist. It felt easy because I was tired of looking at the scale and seeing 198 and wearing clothes that I didn’t feel confident in. So I started going to the gym with my dad. Now I am a junior in highschool and I didn’t see the results I was hoping for, I gained muscle mass but didn’t drop much weight I now weight 190. With my newly acquired license I started getting to the gym two hours earlier than my dad to do some running on the tread mill. I did two hours of running three days a week as well as stopped eating the very unhealthy school lunch that was also over-priced, my diet mostly consisted of eating less of what I was already eating while adding in some healthier alternatives such as fruit and yogurt I also cut soft drinks entirely and as soon as I didn’t that combined with the two hours of cardio three days a week the weight melted off, I dropped 25 pounds in 4 month and still had some more body fat to loose. At this point I am happy with my self and am starting to feel like I am becoming myself, but I didn’t fit into my old clothes so I had to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe, with the new wardrobe I wanted to dress in clothes that fit right and also felt right, my style is cheaply expensive, this style consisted of brands that were thought to be high- end and premium but were actually half price and name brand. You can be on a budget and still get high end clothes you just gotta know where to look. My new outfits would spark conversations with class mates, they would ask how much I paid for that particular piece of clothing and would be shocked at how cheap I got it for. There was this one kid that I got the same shit as and he came up to me and said that I had a nice shirt while wearing that same shirt and I returned the gesture and asked where he got his and he said the brands outlet store and I would gasp and say that I got the same shirt for half price at an off-price retail store (T.J Maxx), not only did me being myself spark conversations with other people who also like clothes it helped me gain the body confidence I was lacking. My new style seemed to help me look easier to approach, once people approached me they found that I was fairly easy to talk to and very down to earth. My whole Identity changed when I lost the weight I was eager to lose and wore the clothes I felt like myself.