According to Max-Need’s classification of needs, “identity” is part of a category wherein people needs a sense of belongingness and self-esteem. People want to define their own identity as a person to be able to belong in certain crowd as indicated in the line “The definers want the power to name.”
However, it Morrison’s quote, the “defined” are taking into a separate route. The definers here are in the particular context of the “marginalized” group who want to have their own identity but are already given an identity by the third party – the definers. It is safe to say that the “definers” pertains to the non-marginalized segment of society who easily subjects the marginalized people as if they know them and their identities as indicated in the line “The definers want the power to name”.
Taking this in a more personal note, I experienced the same dilemma when I was still a child. Back then, my family moved to a new suburb and we had an Asian neighbor who was always gardening with his kid of my same age. At first, I easily thought that he was Chinese because we did not know his true ethnicity. So I did not talk to him because I know that he would not understand what I was saying. During those days, I had no friends yet in the neighborhood and if only I befriended him right away, I would have had a blast. Little did I know, he spoke perfect English.
This is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’. As I kid, I know I was naïve to not think my friend spoke English. We all easily define people and we are also easily defined. Although, Morrison did not expound the idea in this quote about the importance of being “politically correct”, It indeed give us a thought to ponder on.
Morisson, Toni (1994, September 11). What I think the political correctness debate is really about the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power from them. New York Times Magazine.
According to Berube (1998), “There was more. Along with his patent ductus arterious and his trisomy 21, there was laryngomalacia (flopphy larynx), jaundice, polycythemia (an abnormal increase in red blood cells), torticollis, vertebral anomaly, scoliosis, hypotomia (low muscle tone), and (not the least of these) feeding problems. That's a lot of text to wade through to get to your kid”(p.189).
Reading all of that has got to be hard for anyone who’s not in the field of medicine. But, I guess that it is even harder to absorb all of those terms once you’ve understood all of them, and realize that someone close to you has all of those conditions. And this holds true in the last line “That's a lot of text to wade through to get to your kid”. “Adult words” and medical jargons can certainly confuse a kid and even a parent’s patient who needs moral support in the healing process rather than listening to the scientific terms.
Back when I was still in grade school, I was diagnose with scoliosis and had occasional asthma attacks. It caused some pain and discomfort then and even now. Although the pain was excruciating, I saw my parent’s dilemma more painful than ever. It was not about the financial crisis of healthcare that took my attention, it was their heartfelt ways of trying to let me understand my situation that was very hard to take. I guess what mattered was that they were around because all those scientific terms really made me dizzy.
Going back to Berube’s quote, I think that it is hard for him to take care of his son as indicated in the line “There was more”, but I guess his love for him keeps him going, and gives him strength to take care of his son as indicated in the longs lines “Along with his patent ductus arterious and his trisomy 21, there was laryngomalacia (flopphy larynx), jaundice, polycythemia (an abnormal increase in red blood cells), torticollis, vertebral anomaly, scoliosis, hypotomia (low muscle tone), and (not the least of these) feeding problems.”
Parents are always there for their kid. They’d take care of their child, no matter how challenging it could get.
Berube, Michael. (1998). Life as we know It. Vintage.189