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what determines identity?
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Strange Famous Forum > Social stuff. Political stuff. KNOWMORE

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sparrow



Joined: 11 Aug 2009
Posts: 331
Location: stolen land, the place where spirits get eaten.
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original thread title/username

Last edited by sparrow on Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:52 am
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antics



Joined: 28 Apr 2005
Posts: 16
Location: melbourne
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hi, long time watcher, first time poster**.

Identity is always personal. Always built on your own personal experiences, be it education, family, friends, music etc. Labeling a group of people is dangerous because it denies the person. I spent a chunk of time as a 'gringo' in south america, and i felt first hand what it was like to be grouped into a label. Being a white person in south america i was subjected to a lot of discrimination from shopping mishaps and misunderstandings to having a bus load of Chileans wanting to see me get robbed. This left me feeling fairly empty and asking a multitude of questions such as "why do they treat me like this just because i look like i look? They don't even know me."

It was here i learned what being lumped into a label must feel like. It denies the person and the personal. It denies too much for it to be an effective way of categorizing people. So to bring it back to the point of the thread, i think the individual has the right to identify themselves however they please as long as it does not offend or hurt other people.

That said, physical unchanging labels that aren't assumed are probably ok. For example i am an Australian of English, Welsh, Austrian and Chinese decent. The fact that my ancestors are from Europe and Asia cannot be changed, and the fact i was born in Australia cannot be changed. These are undeniable facts and the assumption of me as an Australian is personally ok. But if i'm fairly confident if you were to label some traditional landowners, or Indigenous people as "Australians" you'd find that they would prefer to be identifed as members of their original nations. Not as the Eurocentric Australia...

Thanks for listening.

rAntics.

**turns out i had 8 posts before this one. I apologise for the introduction!
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:22 am
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futuristxen



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 19356
Location: Tighten Your Bible Belt
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Telling somebody who they are is one of the more ridiculous things out there. You're not actually making a comment on them when you do that, you're commenting on your own perceptions and skews--"me, me, me"--which is a strange tact to take when it comes to learning someone's identity.

To know someone you kind of would want to know how they identify and why--because that's the reality they are operating within.

It's like if I'm in a relationship with someone who tells me they are a vampire, but I say "no, you're just a kid who likes twilight a little too much"--I shouldn't be suprised if I wake up bleeding with bite marks in my neck. They told me they are a vampire. My refusal to take that as their reality just made me make a critical misunderstanding...

Similarly if someone told you that they identify as a serial murderer. You may think, "no, you're Irish", but when you end up as a flesh suit for fatty--you'll have thought maybe to shut up and listen in such matters.

Obviously two pretty dire examples. But the same applies to someone's nationality. Identity is at it's worst when it's a tool used by some to define many. It's at it's best when it's used by the individual to understand themselves.
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:47 am
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crash



Joined: 07 Aug 2003
Posts: 5456
Location: the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption
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Dan Shay wrote:
Good luck telling a Puerto Rican they're not Spanish.

i'm not telling anyone anything. i just found it revealing he felt the need to broadcast his pedigree. he obviously was uncomfortable with the label puerto rican but he couldn't abandon it completely because he was born and raised there.

erich wrote:
crash, you know we're cool, but i gotta say this just sounds like some academic lumping of a person into an easy label through cultural or historical generalizations, no matter how accurate they may appear. that's a really ugly slope to be slipping down. are you comfortable completely invalidating a transgendered person's experience, for example?

self-identification is immensely important and needs to be respected. if that makes it harder for you to break down and comprehend the world, maybe your world needs to be a little more complicated.

i wouldn't compare these cultural labels to gender identity. as i see it, gender is something that's purely psychological. if you feel like a woman then you are a woman as far as i'm concerned.

do you think that labeling is purely the right of the individual? choosing identity isn't just about denying others from putting you in a convenient box. people sometimes chose their identity for reasons that are classist or racist. is that acceptable? is it cool if i decide i'm black and start saying n****? should everyone respect that because it's my choice?

i don't think identity is a simple as "you are what you want to be" - i don't think this is a slippery slope issue either. i'm not interested in telling anyone what they are. i refer to people by what they ask to be referred to.

at the same time, i don't want to excise copts from larger label of arab when i'm thinking or writing about the middle east simply because the ones i know aren't happy about being overrun by arabians 1300 years ago and getting the short end of the stick since then.

i think that fundamentally, identity is a creation not of the individual but of the group. overtime a group that thinks itself different will evolve and manifest those differences culturally. they will create words to distinguish themselves from others.

of course, one person making claiming or rejecting a certain identity is a part of this process, which is why i don't feel it's right or prudent to try to tell a person what they are. i think i can still make judgments on the bigger picture though.

i think i may have just worked this out...
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:39 am
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erich



Joined: 15 May 2005
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NPS wrote:
erich wrote:

self-identification is immensely important and needs to be respected..


That's like... your opinion man.


NPS wrote:
Speaking for myself, I am a kid who grew up in the burbs of america, a "white mutt". I was born largely, into a seemingly cultureless life. The only culture that found me was hip hop. At age 7 I became infatuated with the music they called rap and the lifestyle they call hip hop. I am 25 now, and throughout all these years I have embraced that culture as my own.


hip-hop "found" kids from the Bronx in the 1980s; by "found" i mean they did what they did, dressed how they dressed and it became their culture. every head after that point self-identified with the culture, which is great and beautiful. the culture you "found" yourself in was white middle american, but you chose early on to self-identify with hip-hop because that's what you felt you were meant to be in your heart, which is great and beautiful. you agree with my opinion so unconsciously that you don't even realize it.

crash wrote:
is it cool if i decide i'm black and start saying n****? should everyone respect that because it's my choice?


okay, i'll respond to you through this example. imagine a white kid who grows up with exclusively black friends. his societal label is "white," and that's as far as he would get with you. now say he chooses to self-identify as "black." (this might be getting murky but stay with me) eventually, his group of friends might come to recognize him as "black," in a manner of speaking. they all might then feel fine with him using the n word around them.

now, of course, if he were to use it around other people, they might not realize or respect how he self-identifies- and that's exactly why i'm saying self-identification is important. if he truly identifies as black, i would hope he would be respectful enough to explain himself to a new friend, without necessarily feeling entitled to use the word. if that friend were black, hopefully he could be sufficiently put at ease and feel comfortable with the way this whiteboy talks, especially if it's the affectionate version of the word that would be hard to eradicate from casual conversation. if his new friend were you, you'd make him feel bad for his life experience because you're only looking at his skin color. just saying.
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:31 pm
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T-Wrex
p00ny tang


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Apparently, arab is ten words or less.. so it's a viable identity.
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:47 pm
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NPS



Joined: 06 Oct 2010
Posts: 86
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T-Wrex wrote:
Apparently, arab is ten words or less.. so it's a viable identity.


ROFL
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:42 pm
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Dan Shay



Joined: 30 Aug 2003
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Location: MN
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Let us know how your Human Taxonomy project progresses.
Post Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:21 pm
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See Arrrgh



Joined: 08 Feb 2009
Posts: 251
Location: New England
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erich wrote:

crash wrote:
is it cool if i decide i'm black and start saying n****? should everyone respect that because it's my choice?


okay, i'll respond to you through this example. imagine a white kid who grows up with exclusively black friends. his societal label is "white," and that's as far as he would get with you. now say he chooses to self-identify as "black." (this might be getting murky but stay with me) eventually, his group of friends might come to recognize him as "black," in a manner of speaking. they all might then feel fine with him using the n word around them.

now, of course, if he were to use it around other people, they might not realize or respect how he self-identifies- and that's exactly why i'm saying self-identification is important. if he truly identifies as black, i would hope he would be respectful enough to explain himself to a new friend, without necessarily feeling entitled to use the word. if that friend were black, hopefully he could be sufficiently put at ease and feel comfortable with the way this whiteboy talks, especially if it's the affectionate version of the word that would be hard to eradicate from casual conversation. if his new friend were you, you'd make him feel bad for his life experience because you're only looking at his skin color. just saying.


To me, the problem with this example is that the white kid's self-identity hasn't suddenly made him black, but rather that the culture/society that he grew up in has integrated him into their ranks and accept that the use of the n-word, in this case, is not being used in a racist way. This isn't self-identity, but rather cultural identity that comes with growing up in what you seem to identify as "black" society. The example that Crash was using was that a white kid from suburbia can't suddenly self-identify as "black" and find acceptance in using the n-word freely around people who aren't going to accept him as such because he hasn't gone through the same struggles as the kid from your example. This is the problem with assuming that self-identity removes all other identities that any given person has. It doesn't work out in the way that people seem to be saying it does in this thread.
Post Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:00 am
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icarus502
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Joined: 01 Jul 2002
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One's right to self-identify is infinite but one's ability to do so is very, very limited.
Post Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:27 am
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T-Wrex
p00ny tang


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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You are wise beyond your years, Mr. 502.
Post Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:40 pm
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