Race, Class, and Culture:
How it affects your Identity
Identity is defined as “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is” (Oxford University Press). Personal identity deals with questions that arise about ourselves by virtue of our being people. Some of these questions are familiar that happen to all of us every once in a while: What am I? When did I begin? What will happen to me when I die? There are many different categories that define us as people (Olson). Our Race, Class, and Culture define who we are so much that it affects how we should live our life.
Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation (Babylon). In the story, “Everyday Use”, two young girls are raised by the same family but one child acts as if race is not an issue whereas the other child’s race becomes the center of her identity. Maggie knows more about her African American heritage than Dee does. Dee’s identity comes from her upbringing, from her great grandmother, to grandmother, to her own mother. Maggie’s identity seems to be solely based on her race.
The House on Mango Street deals with the issues of not fitting in and being discriminated against because of your race. In the story, “The House on Mango Street”, Esperanza says, “All brown all around, we are safe (Updike). But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight (Updike). This statement makes me think of how I would feel if I were in Esperanza’s shoes. Esperanza and her family do not feel like they belong because of their race. The family is not sure who they are or where they belong. You can understand Esperanza and her family to strive for upward mobility. They want better for themselves and continue to believe that it will someday happen. Deep down Esperanza thinks owning a better house is not likely to happen. If you have ever felt like this then you know how Esperanza feels.
You get the same feeling when walking into an event where you are the only one there of your race. I have had this happen to me before and it is not a very comfortable feeling. Some people treat people different because of the race they are. Unfortunately, this happens in the job industry as well. Some people are not hired because of their race even though it’s supposed to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Class is a relative social rank in terms of income, wealth, education, status/position, and/or power (Aronowitz). There is no precise definition or delineation of class groups. The different kinds of classes are: upper class, middle class, working class, and poor. Our class position and identity can change during our lifetimes as our income, wealth, and occupational status change. Some people may say that working...