Identity crisis filter: ethnicity edition. Did you grow up one ethnicity, and choose another later in life? Do you identify with one ethnicity over another, even though both are in your lineage? Did you deny your ethnicity throughout life, then later claim it?
I need some help working through my ethnicity self-identification, also in the ways of culture appropriation.
posted by FirstMateKate to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in my [very] early 20s, and have been doing the normal soul-searching, finding yourself stuff that people my age tend to do. I've conquered my sexuality, my body issues, and my religion. In all of these aspects, I know who I am [for the most part]. Great! Now I've found my brain coming back to the issue of my ethnicity, over and over again. I read blogs, journals, websites about ehtnicity, just in general. It seems to be the next hole my mind is trying to fill-my lack of a self-identified ethnicity.
Theres a bunch of haze surrounding the topic for me, though. In my heart, and my mind, I identify as Native American [Seminole, specifically]. I've been thinking back to my childhood, to try and see how I identified then, and it was the same. My mother, who I get the lineage from, was always very proud of that part of her heritage. She had Native pottery, paintings throughout the house. Our coffee table books were on the history of Native American loom-weaving, or other Native American crafts. She was proud, you could tell, but it was always very private for her. I suspect it was because she derived it from her father, who died when she was seven. So her Native American heritage was cherished, but painful for her. I didn't even know that my mother's real dad existed until I was about 12. I had always assumed that my Grandmother's other husband [who also died before I was born] was my Grandfather, it was that sore a subject. It was really never talked about.
So, growing up, I've been surrounded by the art and culture of Native Americans, but it's always been an internal and personal identification. I'm pretty pale-skinned [though with dark hair and eyes], and so I've been treated white by society. But when I go to museums and see Native American pottery, there are parts of me that just see it as mine. When people appropriate the religious or tribal clothes or patterns, I feel personally offended. I know this doesn't make much sense, It's kind of like your sexuality and gender, it's just something deep inside that you feel is right. It belongs. That's how I feel about my ethnicity.
But there's this personal conflict with letting myself really, truly identify, because it's a history steeped in violence and imperialism and struggle. And I have been subjected to none of that. I'm pale enough to be treated as white. I've known none of the struggle of the people. And that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't want to be another white person appropriating a minority culture.
Is there anyone else out there who has been through this? Are you, yourself, Native American? Indian? Dominican? Any other minority race? How does this feel for you- as a minority?