Identity - Terrance McKnight ORLJ 5046 Reflection Paper #2...

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Terrance McKnight ORLJ 5046 Reflection Paper #2 November 8, 2010 Who am I? How does my society view me? How does the world in general view me? In my opinion, these are the different focal lenses through which cultural and ethnic identity can be addressed. One has a self-defined identity; however, despite this identity, society, whether it is the person’s home society or a foreign one, may view that person similarly or differently. And conversely, a person’s perception of how he/she is viewed by the outside world may influence his/her self-identity. Though I do not like being identified as such, I have allowed mainstream American society to place the label, stereotypes, and expectations of African-American on me. I captured the essence of this from my point of view during the discussion about culture: I do not like to be referred to as “African-American”. I do not know what I would like to be referred to, and I am sure that it is just semantics; however, I guess when I think of the label, the connotation I gather is that it lumps me with a group of individuals that I do not identify with. I recently visited Ellis Island. Not surprisingly, there was nothing there about my ancestors that descended from slavery. The caveat to this is that I do not know what European country my lineage traces from. So I walked out of the museum knowing as much about my history as I did before. The point of this is that I do not feel as if I can identify with a specific group of people. I am American, but what exactly does that mean? I often wonder if we are the only culture that uses the terms we use to identify others (Chinese-American, Haitian-American, etc.); if so, is it because we are one of the few countries that do not have a predominately-racially homogeneous population? I am American, but when I travel to other countries, most others do not have an image of me when they envision what an American looks like.
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There are a multitude of traditions that various groups celebrate within America that reflect their individual heritage; I have none. I have never been to Africa, nor am I colleagues with any Africans. And if I am African-American, what would we call a
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This note was uploaded on 06/01/2011 for the course ORL 1000 taught by Professor Buontempo during the Spring '11 term at Columbia.

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Identity - Terrance McKnight ORLJ 5046 Reflection Paper #2...

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