Identity is relative based on perspectives. I’ve come to recognize that how I view myself, all the different components of my identity, may not be the same as how others view me. I view my racial identity as an Asian-American to be the most salient part of my identities. In my mind, my experience in the United States, through the marginalization and the struggles I’ve faced since my family and I immigrated to this country have been shaped because of my racial identity and my physical features. While I have primarily defined my identity as one who belongs to a historically marginalized group, what I have come to realize is that others may not see me as that. In fact, I’ve been reminded that as a male in the position I hold at the university, I am seen as a person of privilege. For others, I’m seen through the lens of gender, organizational position, etc. beyond race and these lenses are relative to the other person’s perspectives.
I ‘ve been thinking about this notion that while I may feel oppressed in some ways, I also carry privileges because of certain aspects of my identity. I was reminded by a student recently of the privileges I/we carry as university staff (and even students) relative to those who live in their hometown (inner city). This student reminded me that while we do have our own struggles we are fighting for, sometimes we live in a bubble and forget the struggles of folks like those who live beyond the confines of the university must go through. This student reminded me that their family is currently homeless and they must move from time to time depending on which friends and families are willing and able to house them.
Taking the time to understand other folks’ perspectives and their struggles is one of the efforts I’ve always tried to do since I can remember but at times, I fall into the trap of just thinking about the issues I face without realizing that while in some ways I have been marginalized, I also carry privileges I must be conscious of.
Can you relate with my experience? How do you define your identity and how do you think others view you?
image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/identity-mask-disguise-mindset-510866/