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Gary Younge, columnist for The Guardian and The Nation, examines the state of identity politics and attempts to find common ground in his new book, Who Are We - And Should It Matter in the 21st Century? .
Hi, I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and came to the U.S. when I was then. Back then, Argentina was an invisible country. It still is and it saddens me. I do not consider myself Latina. I don't like labels. Most of the programs on Univision and Telemundo have very little to do with Argentina. I watch the soap operas, but the accents and everything else are so different! I have lived in 2 worlds for many years. It is not a comfortable feeling. Euugenia Renskoff
Only in America.
we are different, and the same, at the same time. no big revelation. the term multiculturalism,is, to me,quite cringe worthy. i don't think, it serves any holy political purpose. it's a catchall of catchalls. it's a vague large vat, of assumed nothingness. this may sound like a conservative position,but i assure, that in my case,it is anything but.
I have one German parent and one Jamaican parent.
I don't care what other people define me as or assume I am based on skin color, etc. I am, in fact, what I am and I claim both sides of my heritage because I have the same rights as anyone who happens to be say half Irish and Italian for example.
And anyone who has a problem with that can go kiss my bi-racial a#%!
No one can "tell me who I am". I am who and what I in fact am, and I am very very proud of it. No matter what anyone says or thinks will not change the fact of my background and heritage so I claim both sides because that is in fact, who and what I am.
One thing I have learned in life is the idea that someone else could define you is patently absurd.
As hard as it has been for me my 8 year old son struggles even more with cultural identity. I am West Indian American, African American and Italian. My husband is descended from several European Cultures and is also 1/2 Italian. My son is confused and I'm not sure how to help him. It really came to a head when they had a cultural celebration at school and he didn't know how to identify himself. It seemed as though all his classmates were, Italian, African, Japanese. Not so easy for him.
As long as our starting point is "race", as long as we operate within the framework of the traditional American racial classification system, then we will have these problems and confusion. In our racial system, skin color determines culture and other behavioral characteristics. Very rigid and unscientific!
Tracy - I'm curious, where were you born?
I feel like I'm not "allowed" to identify myself as Japanese or half Japanese because I don't look it. People assume I'm Hispanic and are shocked when they find out. They seem bothered that I don't look the way they expect. I always sarcastically apologize.
Culturally, it's a big part of who I am, but it's not how others perceive me.
Growing up biracial in a mostly white community, I learned to define myself more by what I was not. I was not like my peers nor was I like my black cousins. However, the process of coming out as gay has actually helped me in other areas, such as race, to define and accept what I actually am and to present that to others.
I have to mention that sometimes people want to be known as a certain race even though they arent, because they feel that is what they should be considered... in the case of my great grandmother (from Jamacia) she had on her license that she was "black" because she was part white part indian (she looked white) ... however despite this on her documents, she was classified as "white" on her death certificate...
I can relate: I am Barbadian and American--equally and simultaneously. But my parents disagree as to whether I am American OR Barbadian, and Americans just think I am African American--they erase the West Indian out of me altogether!
I'm an American and a New Yorker, and I feel more patriotic about the latter.
My mother, who was a Holocaust survivor, told me a long time ago that it doesn't matter who YOU think you are, the others around you will tell you in good time. You can hide and lie, and try to deny, but nobody is fooled for long. You have to be who you are, or live a life in denial.
Thankfully, America is one of the few countries that allows people to redefine themselves, and goes along with the charade. But deep inside, nobody is really fooled.
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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