The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The constructions and formation of identity

The+constructions+and+formation+of+identity

A narrative from a Caribbean-American student

Being born in Miami, Florida and living my first few years in Haiti, I’ve always had a strong sense of my roots while also assimilating to a land that I now call home. Because I am the youngest son of two Haitians that were in search of a better life, my lifestyle and beliefs have always embodied the collision of two different worlds.

Until the age of 6, I only spoke French and Haitian Creole, only recited Haiti’s national anthem and didn’t know much about America except that I was born there, and then it was time to go back. My transition to America was a blur as it was in my early years of life, but I remember my astonishment in seeing people that looked nothing like me.

I encountered an array of people with different skin tones, languages, attires and beliefs. As I spent my adolescence, teenage days, and early adulthood as a Haitian American here, I’ve learned a few things regarding identity.

When I was in elementary school, my parents had a recurring conversation with me and my brother: “who we are and how we fit in this world,” helping us to reinforce our sense of identity.

Agreeably, we are black citizens of America, but we are not African Americans. Instead, we are just as astounding: we’re Haitian Americans. However, being humans of the colored race no matter how it is labeled has brought us similar hardships throughout history, where slavery was a common denominator inhibiting our potential.

As long as there is disregard to our heritage, culture, past and an array of characteristics that define our individuality, racial tension within or outside of our campus will never dissipate.

Growing up in white America, I’m sure many black people have come across some form of racism at a point in their life; whether it’s the man walking in the opposite direction on the sidewalk who decides to cross the street in hopes of avoiding contact, or the lady that clutches her bag when you step into the same elevator as her, or the elderly lady who would rather struggle with her groceries than accept help from the black boy to prevent her vegetables from being stolen.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”250″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#cecece” txt_color=”#000000″]Agreeably, we are black citizens of America, but we are not African Americans. Instead, we are just as astounding: we’re Haitian Americans.[/mks_pullquote]As I grew up, this reality became more prevalent to me and shaped my notion of who I am. And more importantly, how I’m perceived.

The dynamic of America has always been founded on labels, whether religious, financial, social and, in this case, racial. With these labels come social constructs which further divide us from more than just humans. Among these are stereotypes which have been placed on people of all different backgrounds, pushing us farther away from the concept of the “norm.”

As a person with an ethnic background from the Caribbean, these ideologies and perceptions are placed on me just the same. However, as a youth of this nation with many others like me, we continuously work on altering these fabrications and destroying these constructs.

As we ease into a new decade, inclusion and diversity have been promoted on a larger scale, ultimately, supporting people of different beliefs and educating those that are willing to learn.

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