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How do race, ethnicity, and culture affect one's identity?

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The concept of "identity" is a complex one, made more so by the fact that the term is used somewhat differently in different disciplines. Psychological identity refers to one's self-image, whereas social identity focuses on the way one is perceived by society. Then there are more specific types of identity, such as gender or race identity.

It goes without saying that race will be of paramount importance in one's racial identity, culture in cultural identity, and so on. Beyond this, the importance of race, ethnicity, culture, or any other factor is determined by the self in psychological identity and by society in social identity. If, for instance, you are African American, the importance of that fact in your psychological identity depends on you, while its importance in your social identity depends on how much emphasis society places on your race. Since the latter value is difficult to measure, however, it is likely that people to whom race is important in their psychological identity will view it as being an important factor in society as well. This is amply demonstrated by the very different perspectives of African American thinkers such as Cornel West on the one hand and Thomas Sowell on the other.

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