WHO AM I: THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

“Does where you come from matter?”

I have heard my whole life regarding heritage as a African American to forget about it. You’re an American, who cares about the past. And that makes sense if not for other groups of people holding on to their heritage. Another thing I’ve witnessed in my life has been the festivals and carnivals held in the name of other people’s heritage. So if everything revolves around America, how come no one ever tells Irish, Italians, Jews, Polish, Germans, English, to abandon all beliefs from those regions. In America we still celebrate these groups with events each year.

As a matter of fact the Confederate Flag, representing a group of men who aimed at keeping us enslaved is seen as a proud heritage symbol. But when I flag the Pan-African, African American Liberation flag there is an issue. So I started to think, why? You would think we are the only group seperating, but living here in New York City gave me an insight into multiple groups who still hold on to their own groups’ heritage. Well, why is it such a problem?

For starters, having a strong ethnic identity is power. Look at the groups of people with a strong cultural and ethnic identifier: Chinese, Indian, Nigerian, Jews, and Italians. These are just a few groups who take pride in their ethnicity. So much so, that their is a preference of their children marrying within the group to guarantee the continuation of the group. But the previous groups I just named are very powerful. They are rich in success, self-respect, discipline, and feel less inferior as it pertains to others. Not that they feel they are better, they just expect more.

When I look at the population of Black people in America, we use t have this in our community. But something took place over the past 30 – 40 years that changed all that. Not to mention, Jim Crow and Slavery. We are the only group in America without names, religion, homeland, military protection, nor government that will rally for the community. Yes, we are Americans by way of legality, but in order for the system to move, it usually has to involve a victim from the White community before they act.

So it brings up the question, who am I? When you live in a world where you are so frowned upon you start to search your lineage. Hoping to find something, anything that will give you an insight into where you come from. Why is it important? Because my whole life I have been reminded that you’re only a visitor, this really isn’t your country. Then if not here, where? Free slaves founded Liberia, and they have their own country. But what is our land? If I leave America, I’m still a visitor somewhere else. So I go where do I go?

In the recent years, companies like Ancestry and 23andme have aimed to aid people in their search of self. I have often contemplated using one of these services. Researchers have spent years testing groups throughout the globe. So there is a very strong confidence in the test accuracy. People may say, who cares, but I do. Like I said earlier, I am constantly being reminded either you don’t belong or you have no history. And the more disdain you receive the more you want to find out. And I am not asking for anything any other group has: cultural identity and their “own” base.

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