The Importance of Identity

The+Importance+of+Identity

Celeaciya Olvera

We all attempt to discover ourselves at a young age. Whether it is playing on the playground at recess with friends or distancing ourselves from the loud noises. There is comfort in the atmosphere we put ourselves in and it goes the same way with how we identify ourselves whether that is with cultural background, the family background, where we grew up, who we surround ourselves with, and many more aspects come into how identification defines us.
Identity is defined as the way you think about yourself, how society interprets you, and the characteristics that carry you. Instead of focusing on how we see ourselves, we take our attention more to how our community defines us. Other people including ourselves chose to label each other with the word “identity”.
We are all categorized by our sexuality, gender, culture, class, race, etc., and depending on the category we fall into we are looked at as the minority. While all categories are extremely important topics with identification issues today, there is a lot of division in how we chose to identify ourselves, especially with the race category.
There are a lot of emotions when the word “race” is brought up as a topic of discussion. There are races and ethnicities that are treated differently depending on the way someone looks. Strictly based on their ethnicity and race, about three-quarters of blacks and Asians have experienced discrimination.
After, over a year of being in a pandemic with Covid-19, the Asian community has experienced a high impact of racial injustice. On March 17th, 2020, President Trump issued the coronavirus a pandemic along with labeling the virus the “Chinese virus”. The definition used by someone who should uplift everyone not just their supporters has added fuel to a new fire by generalizing a specific minority group. Whether they are of Chinese descent or not Asian-Americans are scapegoated because the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China.
Having discussions about different cultures gives us the ability to realize how other people live their lives differently. In some cultures, it is tradition to have more than one name. In the Bengali culture, it is tradition to have more than one name given. One name is for the public community also known as bhalonam and the private name for the family, daknam
Jhumpa Lahiri wrote the book The Namesake where she focuses on the importance of how the name you are given represents who you are and where you come from. Many people from different backgrounds have names that symbolize a meaning or representation. When it comes to immigrant-sounding names they are sometimes changed to more “white-sounding names” for better acceptance. For instance, with Hispanic names for example Jorge or Elena translate to George and Helen in English
It can be hard for people with different races and ethnicities to be excepted into a more predominantly white or less diverse area that is not used to different cultures. Something simple as a name can be hard to take into consideration with people, where it leads people to chose a different name that is more socially acceptable.
When it comes to cultural backgrounds it is important to keep in mind that there are people that do not fully understand how different their lives are until they experience someone or something that is outside of their comfort zone. There is comfort in the atmosphere we put ourselves in and it goes the same way with how we identify ourselves whether that is with cultural background, the family background, where we grew up, who we surround ourselves with, and many more aspects come into how identification defines us.
While there will always be people that will choose to ignore how someone else chooses to identify themselves whether it is with race, ethnicity, names, etc. it is important to also keep an open mind that there are others willing to learn and change to be more accepting. The importance of identity is how we define ourselves not what the world thinks.
Graphic above by Jordan Lee.