Who Are You?


I am a white male. Being white and male is not who I am, but what I am. It’s something that no matter how hard I try, or want to, I cannot change. It’s not my identity because I can’t choose to identify as another race as much as I may want to. All of us are what we are. Who we are is something completely different.

We can be politically liberal or conservative, socially liberal or conservative, we can love music, books, certain genres of film, etc. That’s who we are because it’s something we choose and not something that we are genetically.

I reject the idea that race identifies anyone. It’s a sore subject with many because it’s believed if a person is white, they must be a certain type, the same with being black, hispanic, or asian, when in fact, there’s a lot of diversity among all of these.

Does race, ethnicity, or even ancestry have anything to do with someone’s identity? It can, but its a choice made, not something encoded within DNA. My maternal grandparents were Italian, immigrants from Italy in the early 1900’s, but that doesn’t make me Italian unless I choose to identify that way, and I do as I, if asked, will say I am part Italian, by ancestry.

We can choose to be whatever we want to be outside of that which we have no control over.  When we look at one another, we often begin by looking that someone’s race or ethnicity and make judgements about that person based entirely on that characteristic when in fact, once we become more familiar with each other, find that our initial impressions may have been entirely incorrect.

I am an atheist, but even that is not who I am, just one part of the whole person. In fact, I wouldn’t place atheism in the top five if someone asked me to describe myself. We are all made up of many parts that we have chosen to become during our lifetime. We can even change who we are and many do over the course of time.

Identity is not what others perceive us as, but how we view ourselves.

2 thoughts on “Who Are You?

  1. I’ve noticed that in the United States, membership in an ethnic group is voluntary and fluid.

    Depending on the circumstances, I can and do claim ancestry in a few different groups, and my father used to (inaccurately) claim Native American ancestry.

    At one time, I was corresponding with a guy from Greece.
    What he could never understand is that I can never be an “American” in the way he can be Greek.
    What is my ancestral national costume? My traditional foods, dances, music, folk ways, crafts, and ancient art?

    Who is and who is not an “American”?

    My friend asked my why I didn’t “support my own,” by which he meant (as far as I could tell) “white people.”
    In reply, I sent him what I consider two iconic performances of the National Anthem — performed by Americans being American. Whitney Houston’s rendition and Jimi’s at Woodstock are the two best performances of the Star Spangled Banner that have ever been performed.



    Who is he to say that these citizens (one a combat veteran) are not Americans?
    In what way am I an American and they are not — or more of an American somehow?
    Two Americans are seen doing exactly what Americans should do — love the country and protest when it’s wrong. Protest is an foundational American right and duty, an obligation that the Founders hoped and trusted us to do.

    And even — in what way are they not white in part?
    They are each as white as I am Scottish or you are Italian.
    That is, if and when we feel like it.
    And why does it matter?

    I no more identify with England than I do with New Zealand, and I daresay you do not identify with Italy.

    Someone once said that the reason America is the best country in the world is that it’s ALL the countries in the world.



  2. I identify as Jeanne, always have and always will. My ancestors were French, Scots….so I am rather white. I married a guy with Native American ancestors, so our kids are as Native American as Elizabeth Warren, maybe a bit more since there were two ancestors that married, who were Native American. Drat, wish I knew they could have gotten college scholarships.

    They identify as themselves.

    But…seriously, Americans are mongrels. That is why it is difficult to smack us down.


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