Sample Response Essay Goin' Gangsta

Amberly Makovicka
Sara Lihz Dobel
English 0960
January 16
In “Going Gangsta, Choosin’ Cholita: Claiming Identity,” Nell Berstein explains how
people have claimed racial identities, other then their own. Some young people are influenced by
music and television, and then they begin to mimic the things they hear and see. Other people
claim the identity of the group of people they are associated with. Berstein explains that as time
goes by the suburbs are becoming more diverse, and people in the suburbs have become infatuated
with the “city life”. Berstein believes that being who they want to be is what the 21st century is all
about. I also believe that people should be able to choose who they want to be.
I agree with Berstein that people are influenced by what they see and hear. April, portrays
a perfect “cholita”, with her “dark lipstick”, “even darker lip liner,” and “baggy pants, blue plaid
Pendleton, and her bangs pulled back tight off her forehead” (292). Even though she looks and
acts like a cholita she is of “Anglo” descent (292). She has been influenced by the things around
her and has chosen to mimic and live out those things. I went to a very diverse middle school, and
have seen first hand that music and other forms of entertainment can influence how you act, dress,
and talk. There was a girl who transferred to my middle school in eighth grade from a private
school and she was always on time, always did her homework, and usually wore very close to what
her old school uniform was. Within the first three months she started dressing, acting, and talking
like the people she had become friends with because they listened and watched much different
things then her friends at her last school. Her changes to me were alright because she liked and
was happy with the person she had become.
I also believe , like Berstein, that people claim only part of their ethnicity to fit in. In the
essay Berstein says “a brown skinned girl with a Mexican father and a white mother claims her
Mexican side while her light skinned sister claims white,” (293). The girls aren’t claiming
something they aren’t, they are simply claiming only part of their ethnicity to fit in. While I was
in high school I knew a girl named Kesha and she was half white and half African American but
claimed she was white. Kesha was for the most part was friends with white people so she found it
easier to fit in by only claiming her father’s ethnicity. Except for a few close friends she always
told people she was white, and was happy with the choice she made, so no one cared that she didn’t
always tell people the whole truth.
I have seen first hand and agree with Berstein that as the suburbs become more diverse, the
kids in the suburbs become “infatuated with the city life,” (293). Will is one example of such
kids. He lives in the suburbs and him and his friends call themselves “city people,” and they like
the “action,” that comes along with that denotation (294). They are bored with what they see and
do everyday so they are choosing to do what they are now seeing. When I was young I also lived
in the suburbs and as they became more diverse my friends in the neighborhood became infatuated
with what was going on. There were suddenly break-ins, drug deals going on across the streets
and fights. None of the kids in the neighborhood did any of those things they loved to hear about
it and make people perceive that they were doing it.
It’s not always easy to fit in so sometimes people mimic the things they see and hear, or
they claim half of their identity to fit with the people they are associated with. Some kids become
bored with the life they are living in the suburbs so as the suburbs become more diverse they pick
up the things they see. People are finally breaking down the barriers that have gone on for many
years and are getting back to what the country was founded on, that is choosing who you want to be
and not having to deal with backlash from other people.