My maternal grandfather impacted my development of my ethnic and cultural identity. He instilled a pride and an understanding of my Irish roots. Specifically, he brought me over to Belfast to learn and experience the culture. At the time, the hostility between the Protestants and Catholics was clear. People were living under the threats of terrorism, bombing, propaganda graffiti, and in a police state. In addition, I saw families torn apart because a mother was one religion and the father another. I learned firsthand about religious intolerance.
Equally, my paternal grandmother taught me about my Italian heritage. She would cook specialties from Sicily and tell me stories of her homeland. Likewise, my grandmother made sure I appreciated Sicilian traditions, superstitions, and the language. I am grateful to both my grandparents for exposing me to their cultures.
I feel my identity matches the way others view me; but, I think other races fail to recognize there are many white cultures. To emphasize: Irish culture differs from Italian culture; which differs from Swedish culture; so, white is not one big homogenous culture.
Undoubtedly, gender has affected my identity more than race. Growing up, I experienced gender discrimination being the only girl with six bothers. My parents placed boundaries on me because of my gender. Their gender discrimination affected me negatively and prevented me from attempting certain things in life.
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... member of a predominately white family. Jeremy expressed he feels loved by the family, but senses he is an outsider. He wishes the family would accept his choice to be black (not biracial). Additionally, I inquired if he wishes he was white and /or Anthony was black. He answered “no” to both questions. Jeremy wants to be himself, a black young man.
Jeremy’s identity journey differs greatly from than mine. Unlike Jeremy, I was lucky to have people teach me about my traditions and customs. My race, ethnicity, and culture are not part of my every interaction, every second of every day. In contrast, for Jeremy, being black is essential to his identity and it effects his daily life. Sadly, the members of my family including his mother has failed Jeremy by not embracing his uniqueness. Going forward, we need to support and be proud of Jeremy’s heritage.
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