Last Updated 27 Jan 2021

Covering Ignorance

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In “The New Civil Rights”, Kenji Yoshino proposed that change is needed in our current civil rights. In recent discussion of civil rights, one issue has been seen that minorities are “covering” or toning down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream (Yoshino 479). On the one hand, some argues that “covering” is a vital part for a fluid social interaction and peaceful coexistence. From this perspective, we can see that the Yoshino’s “new civil rights” that should be based to individual rights rather than groups can have a drastic change in how our society functions (Yoshino 481).

On the other hand, Yoshino argues that a “new civil rights” is needed for harnessing individual authenticity rather than to assimilate in group identities. In Steve Olson’s essay he said that Hawaii is a “melting pot of racial cultures” where races are almost indistinguishable because of the history of intermarriage but still these people chose to affiliate themselves differently than others (Olson 251). According to this view even with the lost of distinction between racial groups in Hawaii they still affiliate themselves to different groups to distinguish from the other groups.

By looking at Yoshino’s paradigm of “new civil rights”, we can see that while its goal of “liberty” is commendable, it is dependent on individuals that will give action which is impractical. We can in sum, then, the issue is finding an effective way to help all citizens’ exercise their civil rights or will it be just a lost cause because we will remain ignorant of the issue. In Marc Maurer’s “Creating Disability Rights” Maurer said “they themselves the disabled are the primary agents of change” (Maurer 6).

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Maurer wanted to change the view of the judicial court about how the disabled are being discriminated and not being protected by the civil rights, but again like Yoshino’s idea, Maurer needs the people to see the issue and act upon it which can cause people to ignore it. I myself didn’t really give too much thought about these matters because I lack knowledge in these issues about civil rights. I suppose there is some degree of demand necessary in order to provoke or encourage a social change but because today’s society is like water in that it always seems to take the path of least resistance.

If there is any obstruction it will simply go around. Most people don’t want their lives interrupted by pressing issues like gay or civil rights. They are viewed as obstructions. To maintain social flow, insistence for change by the struggling groups will be largely ignored and the norm of society will use assimilation as its justification vehicle, resulting in covering. In order to change, “we must be willing to see the dark side of assimilation, and specifically covering, which is the most widespread form of assimilation required of us today. (Yoshino 480) This statement elaborates on the idea that change will occur when society is educated enough to realize the identity assassination that occurs with assimilation, and also be willing to realize it rather than ignore. Education, as it has in the past, will be the best way for social change to occur. Urging change will always encounter resistance, where education will cause improvement. In this way the modern school can play a positive role in advancing this complicated society of ours toward a future in which all kinds of people are both valued and respected.

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