Nell boosts their self-esteem is okay, I

Nell Bernstein is the author of “Goin’ Gangsta, Choosin’ Cholita: Claiming Identity,” an
essay describing how the youth in certain parts of the country are choosing their preferred
identity rather than accepting their own. For example, in Bernstein’s essay a girl named April,
living in California, wants to be Mexican; therefore, she dresses like and attempts to talk in the
same accent as a true Mexican, even though she is Anglo. The essay also specifically talks about
the state of California, where all this identity changing is happening due to the great diversity of
race there. Bernstein claims that this is a positive situation when a youths choose an identity
other than their own, “actual” one. Whatever makes them feel better or boosts their self-esteem is
okay, I guess? But they still have to face the facts; they can not change their identity. I do not
know what dictionary Bernstein is reading, but the definition of identity does not include the
word “appearance.” Identity is who a person is, not who they appear to be. April can appear to be
Mexican if that is what she likes, but the fact is that she is still and always will be Anglo. The
idea of people trying to change their identity just strikes me with stupidity. It is God’s decision as
to what color, nationality or such a person will be, and I believe He has a purpose for everything;
therefore, each person should respect His decision with acceptance and serve Him well under the
The biggest mistake of this essay is the misuse of the word “identity.” Bernstein claims
that, “Identity is not a matter of where you come from, what you were born into, what color your
skin is,” but rather, “It’s what you wear, the music you listen to, the words you use…” (45). This
is all wrong! Identity is exactly what she thinks it is not. The color of one’s skin describes their
race. That is one piece of their identity. Where they come from is their nationality. That is
another piece. What they were born into, such as family, beliefs, religion etc…., is their culture,
which is yet another piece. All these pieces together describes who a person is. Clothes, music,
and accent only describe who a person appears to be.
April, who is in fact Anglo and should be proud of it, dresses like a Mexican because she
thinks this will make her Mexican, but it will not. Frankly, if I were Mexican and April came to
me in her imitation Mexican costume trying to speak Spanish to me even though the only thing
she probably knows in Spanish is, “Yo Queiro Taco Bell,” it would annoy the hell out of me. If
someone wants to dress, talk, act or do whatever it takes to appear to be another race or
nationality other than their own, that is their choice, but the idea of it is beyond ridiculous. I
despise it and can not stand to watch people who are attempting to be someone they are not. It is
so easy to tell the imitations from the true name brand. This is what is so annoying.

“Goin’ Gangsta, Choosin’ Cholita: Claiming Identity” is a terribly misleading essay. Nell
Bernstien provides true facts about California and its cross-identifying situation, but she has poor
judgment in saying that there are positive outcomes when the youths choose their own identity.

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The negative effect is a person trying to hide their original identity because they are not happy
with who they really are, but in contrast cause themselves embarrassment when trying to act out
their ideal personality when it is so easy for outsiders to detect the cover-up. Making matters
worse, people trying to cover up do not know that what they are doing is ridiculous because
people like Bernstien encourage the idea, but the whole idea is just idiotic because they can not
change their identity. It has already been chosen for them.



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