The article by Adam Alter, titled “How Labels like Black and Working Class Shape Your Identity” investigates the positive and negative influences of labeling on people, with an intent to understand and demonstrate how racial and social labels may determine the future of a person. One of the major statements made in the essay is that people are “incapable of ignoring social labels when assessing a person’s intelligence” McWhorter 469).
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The assessment of intelligence plays a key factor in education, academic success, and future employment. To prove this point, Adam Alter reports the results of several groundbreaking studies made in the 1980s. One of the studies, performed at Princeton University, examined the differences between perceptions of Hannah, an ordinary schoolgirl, based on her backgrounds. According to the findings, “Hannah’s ability was difficult to discern from the video, but some of the students began watching with the labels “wealthy” and “college educated” in mind, whereas the others began watching with the labels “working class” and “high school educated” in mind (McWhorter 470). Another study performed on elementary-school students showed that positive labeling, on the other hand, helps improve the grades and personal growth in students.
The label I was given throughout my life was being a black man in American society. That label came with a variety of negative connotations. Some of them were a higher predisposition to crime, lower academic aptitude, and willingness to work, as well as a lack of responsibility in regards to sex and marriage. At the same time, the agenda enforced by the alt-right also portrayed me as a “free-loader sponsored by government handouts.” Any achievements I might have in school or at the workplace, including promotions, would be viewed as the result of diversity quotas rather than my own. These labels have a negative effect on my life and will affect the opportunities available to me in the future.
McWhorter, Kathleen, T. Successful College Writing. Brief 7th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018.