The Search for Identity in “It’s Hard Enough Being Me” by Anna Lisa Raya, “Who Will Light Incense When Mother’s Gone” by Andrew Lam, and “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan
Identity in America is becoming a worldwide issue for everyone who has immigrated here. In the three essays that I have looked at, I have seen the same issue being discussed. It is the theme of being treated differently and looked at differently. The stories talk about how children come from different areas from the world and try to fit into the American society but the parents do not respect the decision. The parents still want to carry out their culture traditions. In all my three stories they continually explore how difficult the search for identity is while they are young. Children are faced with two cultures, that of ethic tradition and that of the dominant white American youth culture that they were exposed to. “It’s Hard Enough Being Me” by Anna Lisa Raya, “Who Will Light Incense When Mother’s Gone” by Andrew Lam, and “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan they all show the common theme of not fitting in to the society.
“It’s Hard Enough Being Me” by Anna Lisa Raya is about how there is no way for young people to find a place for themselves that embraces their cultural identity while at the same time integrate them into white American society. Raya is isolated and struggling to mediate her cultural differences, or at least what she perceives they should be, and her attempts to fit into the upper-class, mostly white and American social structure away from her home and family.
For Anna Lisa Raya, her struggle in searching for an identity becomes more difficult when she had to move away from her native Los Angeles and came to New York to attend the prestigious Columbia University. She began searching for identity it became clear to her that even though she had been labeled a “Latina”(Raya 1075) she couldn’t write or speak Spanish, did not know how to salsa dance, nor did she even know anything about Mexican history. While in the end she is able to reconcile her identity crisis by remembering that it is important not to let other’s perceptions of which she should be not getting in her way, she went through a difficult time and felt as though she was a “sell out” (Raya 1075) to her culture. Raya’s essay reveals the pressures put on young people to conform to a cultural ideal and although she is able to figure out in the end that it’s important for her to please herself and be happy with being a woman of an interesting heritage and not feeling as though it was necessary for her to take on all the trappings of what society feels is the proper way to be “Latina” (Raya 1075). In order to emphasize her point about the way Americans view Latinos, she makes a point of using the derogatory term “spic” (Raya 1075) to indicate that she has, just by proxy of being surrounded by white American culture, picked up on some of the more negative associations of being Latino. Raya’s essay is very structured on...