IdentityHow does race or ethnicity affect one's identity? For English, I am writing an essay on how the main character's identity is influenced by his race. This boy is Canadian, but he was born...

Identity

How does race or ethnicity affect one's identity?

For English, I am writing an essay on how the main character's identity is influenced by his race. This boy is Canadian, but he was born and raised in Kenya.

All opinions would be helpful!

4 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the influence of one's race on identity depends on whether he is a member of the majority or minority. In this case, because the boy is a minority it will more than likely cause him to compare himself and his culture with the dominant culture.
kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree that looking at your character's relationships with others, and the environments in which he operates, will give you further perspectives on where he feels his identity lies. What place does he call home, his birthplace or the country he grew up in? Does he have actions and beliefs which identify with one area rather than another?

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You might consider comparing and contrasting him with other characters in the book.  Likely he has some inherent differences that are obviously because of his race and the race of his parents.  On the other hand, he has probably developed some differences from his FAMILY as he assimilates with peers in his new culture.  Looking at things like this might help you organize your thoughts and put something coherent together.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Complicated question.

I'm half Asian and half White.  I grew up in Micronesia, playing with Micronesian kids and learning a Micronesian language as my second language (but I knew and everyone knew I was American).  I had little contact with the Asian side of my extended family and a fair amount of contact with the White side when we would come back to the US for vacations.

While in Micronesia, my identity was that of the American even though my skin color was like that of the kids I played with.  That implies that ethnicity is more important than "race."

Here in the US, it is still my "ethnicity" that matters more.  The American part of my upbringing was pure white and so as far as that goes, I'm white (except that I eat a lot of rice and soy sauce and stuff).  The only way in which my "race" affects my identity is when people assume that I am Hispanic.

So, to me, at least, my ethnicity/culture is what affects who I am.  I feel that I am an American who grew up in a really exotic place and who happens to have ancestors from the Philippines.  What really shapes who I think I am is my experience and my upbringing and that is an issue of culture/ethnicity.

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