Identity. It’s the foundation of who we are, or who we want to be, and it may change depending upon the people and situations with which one may come into contact.
Tiger Woods – Yes. I know about the sex scandal. YAWN. Prior to that, people were on his case for failing to identify as 100% black/African American, despite the fact that he isn’t. His marriage to a white, Nordic woman did little to appease these critics. Harold Ford Jr., I’m sure is able to relate to this.
I have never understood why strangers think it any of their fucking business whom a person marries or what someone’s family history is, but we seem to have many obsessed with these matters here in the USA. I suppose this view (among others) makes me a privacy advocate of sorts, I was very pleased with the passage of GINA – the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Getting people to realize that family history is personal might be a small step in the direction of tolerance, as would the realization that all humans have common ancestry.
That many people aren’t 100% black but choose to identity themselves as such is all well and good, as is the fact that everyone is genetically mixed to some degree, but why should that trump freedom of self-definition and self-determination? Why do people have to identify in a way that only serves the emotional and/or political motivations of others?
How you are perceived is a big part of your identity. Harry Reid, who I feel is under attack for acknowledging the elephant in the room that is racism and its impact on election outcomes, alluded to the belief held by many that in order to be accepted by the majority, you must emulate that majority in some way. In this case, having lighter skin and speaking in a manner more acceptable to the majority were perceived as desirable assets which made Obama a more palatable candidate in a presidential election. The apparent reluctance on the part of conservatives and the GOP to admit this political and perceptual truism infuriates me.
Mr. Reid touched upon what many people of color face in relation to member of their own communities or in connection to the majority. “You don’t act black.” (Or Latino, or any other label you care to insert). So many people in minority groups are challenged daily to prove their street crediblity within their own group, is it any wonder that some reject the majority culture while others embrace it at some level? Whose culture do you embrace (more)? This is a key question of identity and is being unanswered and unasked by Mr. Reid’s detractors.
Interesting article about perceptual segregation…