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.