Identity is defined on Dictionary.com as “the sense of self”. Let me tell you a little bit about myself, an introduction to my own identities. I’m a native San Franciscan. My parents were born here too. Each grandparent was a different ethnicity: Danish, Scottish, Irish, and Italian. Contrary to the mainstream and the definition of my whiteness, I consider myself multiethnic. Of course I have other identities and we all have multiple identities. What is your nationality, origin, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, age, generation, and profession?
To run the risk of deconstructing identity to nihilism, we must admit that identity in many cases is a social construction. For example, in America it’s common to categorize someone who has one black grandparent and three white grandparents as black while in Haiti they may be considered white. Again, to theorize about the existence of race doesn’t allow us to deny race exists in our society. For example, it would be foolish for me to claim I was not white, even if that is only part of my whole being.
To add another dimension, some of us may have an identity based on a lack of identity. For example, an atheist does not have a religion but has an identity regarding that category. For another example, I know a man who doesn’t have a nationality at all. He’s originally from Saudi Arabia, but his grandparents had fled Palestine. Though he was born in Saudi Arabia he was not a citizen there or in Israel-Palestine. (Being born in Saudi Arabia does not confer citizenship.) He had no nationality, but he had an identity, a status, a reality, based upon it. Such categories can be limiting, but also help us make sense of the world. Sometimes we learn more about what it means to be American by traveling abroad.
Difference brings perspective. Difference can bring conflict. My blog is designed to provide thoughts on identity to challenge our comfort zones. I hope my entries can add perspective. My goal is not to create conflict for its own sake, but to challenge assumptions, to get us to think. Let’s confront the issues but not each other. I seek your openness (dialog) and strength (civility).