1) How do you primarily identify yourself (discuss at least three different ways you identify yourself, for example by gender, nationality, ethnicity, profession etc.)
First, it’s important to mention the discovery I’ve made on the etymology of the word, identity. I’ve discovered that it means “to put a dent into the universe,” or “I carve a niche out of the world.” We can then ask, “What is your dent, your mark in this world that is uniquely yours?” and “What is the critical implication of your true identity to your well-being and happiness?” Given that we are constantly changing and becoming, this dent or mark changes, too.
For the sake of time, I will limit my identities described here by ethnicity, culture, and gender. Currently, I identify myself as a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural female humanist. I have always created my own little box when asked about race or ethnicity on forms. I am proud of my racial (White, Hispanic, Asian) and ethnic (Portuguese, German, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Filipino, Okinawan) ancestral heritage, and proud of my cultural heritage (Hawaiian). There are several debates around race and ethnicity: what they are, how they differ, whether they differ, how culture and language play a role in their definitions, and how they each have become a social construct throughout society based on personal experience and perception. Based on scholarly research, race, ethnicity, and culture are separate by definition, but interlinked by experience.
Next, I am proud to be female, and I try not to consider myself a feminist, although I probably am. To me, the very word oppresses female. I fight for girls’ rights to education not because they are female; but because they are human and deserve to be educated just as much as anyone else.
Lastly, I am many and ever evolving. I embrace all my identities and accept that change is constant and good.
2) Are these identities complementary or contradictory? Please discuss.
Complementary and contradictory are all one in the same. We are crazy beautifully multifaceted and complicated monkeys. Sometimes my identities collide, and sometimes they coagulate. The identities I specifically mentioned above are complementary to me – co-existing, harmonious, and supplemental. My rich ethnic and cultural upbringing in an environment that was once hostile and unforgiving gives me confidence that my female humanist approach to equity and equality of human rights is possible and valid.
3) How do perceptions of others affect your presentation of your identities? Have your identities changed, one gaining precedence over the other depending on time or location?
I am a chameleon, which is a strength in my opinion in that adaptability and flexibility are two of the most important skills when living and learning in another culture whether this “culture” be work- or travel-related. However, it can sometimes be perceived as a weakness in that I have no single-most dominant identity. It truly all depends on place and time for me. It’s a constant ebb and flow of interchanging and interweaving identities. What I hope we can work on as a society is to accept and embrace our multiple identities, realize that they’re always changing, and unhinge ourselves from boxed-in immobile impressions and perceptions of each other.