Thursday, November 25, 2010

Identity Crisis

I've never seen myself as particularly "Western" before, but that's because I live in The West. I identify as a Canadian partially as a reaction to the things surrounding me that are Not Canadian, like the United States. I notice my "Chineseness" because of all the Non-Chinese people around me. And I identify as gay, or queer, because of the "divide" between queers and straights. If there was no such thing as heterosexuality I wouldn't need to identify as queer at all. I would just be. Even though I'm Chinese, I'm also mostly Canadian, or Western, or North American. I wouldn't fit in in China at all!

That's sort of how I feel about living in the West. Prior to this semester I had never taken any courses that taught me anything about places further east than Europe. Africa was just this one chunk of land that was full of starving black people and South Africa had some white people. "South Africa" could basically have referred to the lower half of Africa.

But now I'm learning things about The East and it makes me feel really self-conscious of my North American Status. I've never felt that before because I don't feel like I'm an embodiment of "capitalism", but I guess I probably am. It's really hard to talk about things that are not Euro-centric without bringing in my own presuppositions and attitudes and I feel like I'm interfering in something that isn't mine. I feel like Stuff White People Like: Being an Expert on YOUR culture. Like, look at me, some North American with enough money to go to university and listen to another North American talk about Asia.

I think I feel weird about this because I've never been a "majority" before. I can't look at myself the same way anymore. I can't ask the same questions anymore. I don't wish that I was Eastern. I wish that being labeled as "something" wasn't so important. I wish that I didn't have to feel "American" and that democracy is the best and everyone should have democracy. I feel weird about having "power" but also I don't feel like I have power. I don't know. This probably stopped making sense a long time ago. I'm having an identity crisis, I'll get back to you on my feelings later.

3 comments:

diana said...

i think alot of a people don't who they are. i was born in the US but my parents are mexican and don't really speak english but really i have no idea what it *means* to be mexican beyond what the media tells me and i know i'm not that. this is complicated by the fact that everyone thinks i'm white or a happa. not to mention the fact that i'll be twenty in a couple of weeks and i'll be starting my upper divs and and this will be the first time i'm not going home for the holidays and harry potter is ending which officially means OMGIMNOTAKIDANYMOREWHAT??

melisa. said...

a lot of us have conflicting feelings when it comes to identity & culture , i dont know what i am and get pegged as something different depending on the person judging . i just try not to care

saint modesto said...

yes, truth, but both of you live in the west. i don't know. i'm probably just talking out of my ass.