Two (Un) Identities

My book and this blog are about identity, self and the authenticity of same.

Two recent events spark some curious thought. These are two cases where a person has been denied their identity by being denied their script, their narrative.

The sad and tragic killing of Katie Heinle in San Francisco is curious in this way:  Even now, these many days afterward, we know little about her.  The tabloid coverage of the tragic sudden murder of a young vivacious woman is usually saturation.  There are interviews with friends and family.  There is a biography of work, her education, her aspirations, her social life.  Maybe somewhere out there, this information exists.  I have not seen it in the mainstream coverage.  Even the internet has little. Almost exclusively, her hold on us is a few photos of a beautiful and smiling face. I would suggest that the reason is this:  to give her more is to make her a real person.  Right now she is a pretty face in a few photos.  The liberal media and political left are deeply threatened and embarrassed by this event.  They want it to go away.  The SF City Council buried their heads when confronted.  If they don’t flesh out Ms. Heinle, she goes away more readily.  She is easier to forget if we know little about her.  They seek to keep her an “un-person”.  The less we know; the easier it is to forget.  Think about the other various killers and killed in recent months.  We quickly know their every intimate detail.  Such things are easily found.  We have none of that here.  It is on purpose.

The second identity event is the young woman who wished to be seen as African-American when she was, in fact, white.  This floods the mind with a plethora of issues on how one finds an authentic self.  She was generally castigated for her attempt at changing her race.  But is this too far from changing one’s gender?  If genitalia is no longer the single tell-tale marker of identifying your gender, why is skin color to be held as an irrevocable physical characteristic to stating your race?  If “how you feel inside” is a legitimate source of gender identity, why can’t Rachael claim to be black.  In my earlier post “Fifty Shades of Gender”, I look at the now “spectrum” of gender.  Apparently one can now safely claim to be at any point on the gender spectrum just by saying so.  Why isn’t skin color a spectrum?  Unfortunately , for Rachael, she was quite white in skin color. Had she been born Caucasian with a darker tint, her claim might have assumed a larger credibility.

Identity is a fluid state.  In the above two instances, one is dictated externally, the other generated internally.  Katie’s authentic self is purposely hidden from us by external forces.  Their purpose is to hide and minimize the real person in hopes that we will soon and more easily forget.  And thus the egregious errors by both local and federal authorities and politics would also melt away and be forgotten.

The other is an internal self-generated effort to change identities.  To forget one, and forge another.  Here, the media interfered and stopped that effort.  In that she was a political figure (NAACP) that is understandable.  But as a private person, she might have pulled it off, having every right to do so, and been a happy person.  Per my prescriptions in my book, I think her black persona would lack authenticity thus unlikely to give true happiness, but who am I to not give her a chance.

Scripts, and/or the lack of same, and identity are closely interwoven.  These two instances stand vividly in testament.



4 thoughts on “Two (Un) Identities

  1. Yes, in the back of my head I kept thinking….what’s going on with that? Why haven’t I heard anything? This makes perfect sense; although really disheartening.


    1. Thanks for reading. Yes…I too felt perplexed. I waited, but no more info came. So these thoughts came as possible explanation. I also did some tweaks to the essay this morning. Worth a second read; it is sharper. Best.


  2. Interesting. Why does the world embrace one person trying to be another such as Bruce/ Caitlyn yet oust another like Rachael? Neither really have true experience in their self proclaimed identities yet one is celebrated and the other condemned. I feel badly for the parents of Katie, so unjust on so many levels.


  3. This is a very intimate post. Both heart-rending. Both, I realized, about the annihilation of the individual, by omission. Another stunning revelation about the instrument of omission used “externally” in Katie’s case, and “internally” in Rachel’s. In both cases “inauthenticity” is the outcome arranged by the arbiters of what’s true, the media. Really, (and I feel some nausea here) how different is the media under a dictatorship? Unless the news serves the state(and if it does it a disservice, watch out!), the most effective way of neutralizing it is by ignoring it. In effect, Katie, even in death, has been sent to the Gulag, and Rachel is under house-arrest.


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