I'm a big, white, balding male with glasses who was born in the Netherlands, but what does that say about me as an individual or what I stand for? I can tell you how Dutch culture has influenced me, and how the educational system in the Netherlands has helped me to "escape" from religion, but that doesn't make me feel "Dutch", whatever that means.

 

When I was younger, the fact that I wore glasses was more of an issue then it is nowadays. When I was younger kids teased me with my glasses, nowadays nobody seems to care one bit. The same is true for my lack of hair, it used to be an issue to me as people made fun about it, but like with the glasses nowadays I do not care about it at all and neither do other people seem to care.

 

This makes me think that this could somehow be an explanation for some of the things that I find a bit odd when people describe themselves. I know a lot of people that say that their national or racial identity is very important to their personality and individuality. This made me wonder, is it really important by itself or does this importance only exists because of the oppression of these groups?

White supremacists for instance seem to be so incredibly proud of being white, while simultaneously believing that their race is under attack. I know some guys from Suriname that are incredibly deep into black pride while also believing that their race is oppressed.

 

This makes me wonder, does society act like a mirror by reflecting to us the way in which other people see us, and do we start to identify with the picture that society projects on us? If society sees you first and foremost as a black/hispanic/asian person, does this mean that your "race" becomes a part of how you define your identity?

 

I don't know for certain, but it does make me wonder, probably enough to keep me awake tonight.

Views: 40

Tags: Identity, Personality, Race

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Comment by Rob van Senten on October 14, 2011 at 1:18pm

Hi Glen,

 

Yes, that was exactly what I was trying to say. I guess it didn't come across so clear. We as humans might look different to one another and all chimpanzees might look alike to us, but genetically we humans are much less varied then, for instance, chimpanzees. I like the word humanzee though, it's pretty cool but I guess that's because I liked "planet of the apes" a lot.

 

"It might lead to examination of human history and a general preference for pacifism and reason."

 

One can hope, yes. We do seem to be moving forward, generally speaking.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 14, 2011 at 7:52am
Think I misunderstood your first paragraph. You are saying that there is greater genetic diversity in the world of chimps than humans, true?
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 14, 2011 at 7:49am

Hi Rob,

Rumors of Humanzees? Ooh, ooh, that there is not true.

You liken racial bigotry to a virus or pathogen; eliminate it and a niche is created for new evolved viruses and pathogens? But racial over-identification does not have to work like that. It might lead to examination of human history and a general preference for pacifism and reason. Then again pigs may learn to fly.

Comment by Rob van Senten on October 14, 2011 at 4:48am

Hi Glen, 

 

As far as i know the genetic variation between you and me would be the same as the genetic variation between an Inuit and an Aboriginal, humans really are very much alike genetically. If you compare us to chimpanzees for instance, the genetic variation between two bordering families can be higher then that of the genetic variation between any two humans on the planet.

 

"Let humans procreate with others who look different. It will reduce bigotry..."

 

I'm sure that if we all had the same skin color we would find another reason to be bigoted towards each other.. but it would hopefully reduce it significantly.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 13, 2011 at 10:24pm

Unfortunately, racial and ethnic stereotyping does contribute to personal identity. In moderation that tendency is not all bad. However over-identification with race is a dangerous tendency which feeds into ultra-nationalism and imperialism. Bad isms both.

And similar to religion with perhaps somewhat greater justification, race identification is a stinking social construct, a fairy bullshit metaphor. Other than a few distinct groups perhaps, what we have in humanity is a hodgepodge of genetic diversity. And I sincerely hope the barriers to miscegenation fall by the wayside. Let humans procreate with others who look different. It will reduce bigotry and the syndrome I call over-identification.

 

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