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Jul 09, 2024

Identity: Who Are You?

In the world of possibilities, the conversation of identity is important, recognizing identity consciousness is even more rampant.
Identity: Who Are You?

Source: Nhi Thanh @obanhmis for Vietcetera.

When existing in a big moving crowd of people, like the rapid Shibuya cross in Japan or the magnificent Changi airport of Singapore, have you ever tried standing still?

Grounding my feet into the gym’s dance floor of my high school winter social, I found myself pausing in the tumultuous mosh pit, questioning my being and comparing it to those around me.

Some might assume that I had a pause in the system or hit a sense of self; I, in fact, distinguished my identity with the crowd, realizing the culture of the existing entertainment is unfamiliar to my upbringing’s culture.

Identity Consciousness: Who I Am Looks at Who You Are

A step up from gaining consciousness, when your first vivid memory formed, is the sense of self. However, identity consciousness is nothing like the “sense of self,” a perception of personal characters that define you. John Locke, an English philosopher, believes that identity is to be founded on consciousness.

Identity consciousness includes the initial noticing the difference between yourself in the diverse world of identities. It registers the learning of how you are impacting and being impacted by the society around you. It imposes the subconscious notion regarding your identity into how you interact your being with society’s being.

But what does identity even mean for us to gain a consciousness of it?

The first google search of “Identity meaning” is the fact of being or who a person or what a thing is, while the Cambridge dictionary defines this word “the fact of being.” Simply put, your identity is presented on your legal documents (ID), like a passport—gender, age, race, and beyond that, socio-economic status, etc.

This makes identity-conscious practice “a process of realizing who you are informs and impacts how you act, how you interact with others, and how you see the world around you,” said Dr. Talusan in The Identity-Conscious Educator.

Dr. Talusan, author of The Identity-Conscious Educator, presented a workshop on Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) work as the keynote speaker. Source: Jenny Tran.

When standing at a bustling crowd, especially a place where others do not look like ourselves, we could easily be identity-conscious of our being, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and the list goes on.

Nature vs. Nurture: Dichotomy or Binary?

As the nature-versus-nurture debate has been going on, identity joins in the conversation and adds on a complex layer that encourages identity consciousness.

The “nature” argument concerns the genetic traits that form one’s identity. Aspects such as physical appearance or eating habits are generally passed down by our parents as we see patterns within our daily lives.

Alongside that, biological gender and sexuality or disabilities and abilities are some of the identities that could also be inherited.

In contrast to nature, the “nurture” argument encompasses the identities that are formed through the living experiences, emphasizing a progress of questioning and learning.

The nurturing element to one’s identity could start from the earliest stage of life, during their very first interactions with family members, until later during adulthood.

Identity is colorful and diverse; so for one to say that a person’s being is made up solely by nature or nurture, it is a biased statement.

There are the obvious parts of our identity that is nature, in which we find a strong hereditary bond. Meanwhile, the nurtured identities are rather unique to personal circumstances, and the way we forge a connection with them is personalized.

Dr. Talusan, author of The Identity-Conscious Educator, presented a workshop on Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) work as the keynote speaker. Source: Jenny Tran.

From my perspective, the roadmap to be conscious about our being is individually unique, despite whether it is nature or nurtured. For we are in the world of constant revolutions and discriminations, the battles for a space of empathy amongst identifiers sprouted from identity consciousness as we realized the meaning of having your voice being recognized.

Take gender and sexuality as an example. It is undeniable that we live in a world where gender and sexuality are defined as a spectrum of identifiers. Though, it is also crucial to recognize the rather extremely conservative gaze that minimizes gender and sexuality to binary concepts, leading to a trend of toxic “helping services” that seeks to “convert” one’s gender and/or sexuality.

Yes, gender and sexuality could be discovered, but they are one’s biological identity.

Hence, the nature and nurture debate narrows down to individual beliefs, concerning how one chooses to recognize different identities.

Conciousness Brings About Respect

Believe it or not, not every identifier is able to hold a space that is free from discrimination, silencing, misrepresenting, etc. There are stables and stereotypes upon identities that the truth about them got carried away.

Asian and their so-called math talents is an example of a stereotype that further enhance a racist expectation for Asian-identifying person to act above and beyond other minority groups.

70 student representatives from all over America during the Asian Educator Alliance (AsEA) Conference, the 2023 session. Source: Jenny Tran.

When many labels are enforced upon us, we seek for the sense of belonging, voice and representation. We look out for an affinity space that makes us feel the sense of belonging with others who share the same identifier. We look into opportunities that give our voice an ear to be heard and our truth to be told. We look up to influencing individuals that share the same identity as us for the hope of being seen.

So that after one is conscious about their identity, they can find a space of respect for their identity.