identity and narrative
In this strand, you will explore the meaning of words such as race, ethnicity, and assimilation as they pertain to individuals and communities. The overall objective of the Identity strand is for you to explore your own identity and how you fit into society.
Big Ideas: Our experiences, relationships and historical narratives shape our identities. Chosen and assigned identity can lead to internal and external conflict. Reflection on our individual and collective identities can be integral to placing our self in history as an agent of change. The master narrative can be a story that marginalizes the experiences of oppressed groups by excluding their perspective. Our own lives and experiences are important narratives to study and can be vital to making transformative, positive change in our community.
Personal identity is the picture you develop about yourself over the course of your life. This includes parts of your life that you have no control over, like where you grew up or the color of your skin. It also includes the choices you make in life, like how you spend your time and what you believe. You demonstrate parts of your personal identity publically through what you wear and how you interact with other people. You may also keep some elements of your personal identity private, even when these parts of yourself are very important.
1. Watch the video above. In your notebook write about how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's story can be applied to your own story. What parts of her story do you relate to? Why? How can you use her story in your relationships with members of your community?
2. A cultural identity essay is a paper that you write exploring and explaining how your place of upbringing, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and family dynamics among other factors created your identity as a person. Even facts such as what activities you took part in as a child can be part of your cultural identity. Your cultural identity is ultimately the group of people that you feel you identify with.
3. Read the essay, "Two Ways to belong in America." You can download it here. As you read, be sure to critically reflect on the text in your notebook.
4. Read the following poem. Can you paraphrase it? Who is the speaker (persona) in the poem? What is the speaker’s tone? Does the poet use images? How do the images relate to one another? Are there any symbols? What do they mean? Are they universal symbols or do they arise from the context of this poem? What is the theme (the central idea) of this poem? Can you state it in a single sentence?
by Pat Mora
able to slip from "How's life?"
to "Me'stan volviendo loca,"
able to sit in a paneled office
drafting memos in smooth English,
able to order in fluent Spanish
at a Mexican restaurant,
American but hyphenated,
viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic,
perhaps inferior, definitely different,
viewed by Mexicans as alien,
(their eyes say, "You may speak
Spanish but you're not like me")
an American to Mexicans
a Mexican to Americans
a handy token
sliding back and forth
between the fringes of both worlds
by masking the discomfort
of being pre-judged
Essential Questions: What impact does the master narrative have on the experiences of oppressed people? How do internal (achieved) and external (ascribed) factors contribute to the shaping of identity? How do race, ethnicity, nationality and culture shape identity? How do we define our various identities: national, state, local, and community? How do we perceive ourselves and how do others perceive us? Who is the in-crowd and who is the other? What is the process of our identity formation? How has the development of images, often stereotypes, reduced or magnified an individual? What does it mean to be American?