I, like many immigrants to the United States have a strong affection for our adopted country. Yes, I know that I could easily be deported and my citizenship revoked. But in spite of that knowledge I still hold these United States to be my country and will not give an inch. This is the life of most immigrants. We have given up much in search of better and having found it guard it jealously. But primarily we understand the beauty and are willing to help in making her a more perfect union.
A frequent question that many immigrants encounter, “Where are you from?”, is not easily answered. I loved my upbringing in Jamaica and would not trade it for anything, but the first answer that comes to mind is New York City. I was first in New York City at age 10 or 11 and came of age in that wonderful city. My closest family still calls New York City home. That answer is not sufficient for many because the followup usually goes like this, “but, where is your accent from?” My answer many times is even more perplexing, “I grew up in Jamaica.” That very precise answer is more often that not followed by, “really! I have been to Jamaica and you do not really have a Jamaican accent.”
I have been thinking about this all week. What is my identity, but more importantly what is identity?
That is a more complex question than I can answer, but I construct identity from the answers to several questions.
My questions in decreasing order are;
1. who am I genetically,
2. who am I socially,
3. who am I psychologically,
4. who am I racially,
5. who am I culturally,
6. what nation do I have affinity to.
Conspicuous by absence is place of birth because I do not think that one’s place of birth is as important as it once was. With the advance of technology the planet is more like a small island in a small lake in a large ocean. Your place of birth is in the large-scale of the universe that island, because a visitor will not care which section of the island. The mobility of humanity and the ever shrinking divide between us will ultimately make the question of place of birth and national affinity irrelevant.
How do you construct your identity?