Friday, January 9, 2009

Identity As An American.

I've thought a great deal over the past year about my identity.  More specifically, I've tried to establish in my thinking the fact that I am, indeed, a racial, sexual, economic, and gendered being.  Unfortunately, this realization wasn't fully clear until this past year or so.  My failure to self-conceptualize in this way is in itself racist, sexist, classist, and pretty sucky in general.  

Upon realizing these things, things that people all over the world don't have the option of being ignorant to, I was quite shocked and a little bummed out.  On the other hand, coming to this understanding has provided me with an opportunity for dialogue with myself as well as with others.  My goal in all of this is to be perpetually honest about my identity with myself, utilizing this understanding as the lens through which I see the world and analyze situations.  As much as I'd like to be neutral, colorless, genderless, and without sexuality when looking at the world, this is not a reality.

Until yesterday, I had never thought very deeply about my geographical identity.  Being from Texas, I've encountered countless people who bring to a conversation their feelings about George W. Bush, their questions about riding horses to school, and their wonder at how I've maintained a vegetarian diet for nearly a decade.  As one might expect, these conversations happen generally with people who aren't from Texas. 

Having purchased my ticket to Ecuador this week, I began to think of my national identity.  Many of the things that embody the 'American spirit' I have disagreements with.  I'm not really fired up about our economic system, our racist and sexist history, and what's going on with LGBT rights nationwide.  That said, there are things about my whiteness, my straightness, or my middle-classness that upset me.  As I prepare for my life in Ecuador, I will be sure to feel more American than ever.   

Anyway, I am very excited to be able to explore my Americanness in a place that undoubtedly has its own national identity.  It will be frustrating and somewhat depressing, though I will surely attain a new level of consciousness in the end. 

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