Growing up I didn’t always feel obligated to identify with a specific race. However, I was always more intrigued when it came to recognizing my own culture. In this country there is so much pressure to classify with a specific race.
We put people into this box based off their appearance and we automatically match them to a “race” based off of their physical features. Some might find it easier to categorize people into a racial box, however, there are some people who dislike the idea of race and feel more content with identifying to a culture.
So let’s chat a little bit about Race vs. Culture.
Race and culture pertains to people, groups, and their classifications. Each term is completely different on how they are used to organize people.
Race refers to people based on their physical characteristics and genetic features. Culture relates to an individual’s traditional beliefs, principles and values, which contains language, spirituality, and religion.
When people look at me they see a “black girl” and that’s blatant because of my skin tone. But many people don’t take the time to ask me what I identify as; they just address me based off of their assumptions. Personally, I am drawn more to culture than race because it is seen as more than just someone’s color.
Race just honestly signifies my physical expression and that is truly not what makes me who I am.
A huge part of who I am is my Afro-Latina identity, and it is something I enjoy talking about and educating those who might not know of us. In actuality some people aren’t interested in learning people’s cultures; for them it is just easier to classify someone based off the color of their skin.
When I think of culture, I think of how it helped shape my identity.
However, ethnicity is also vital because it concentrates more on an individual’s group connection. It might sound a bit similar to culture, but what defines it is much different. It involves your roots, whereas culture is defined as beliefs or social norms within an ethnic group.
Ethnicity has more to do with where your parents or ancestors were born. Everyone doesn’t necessarily have to always identify with where their parents or ancestors were from, but for those who do like me, more power to you.
They’ll just call us descendants!
Race, Culture and Ethnicity is honestly something that will be questioned and examined for more years to come, but what honestly matters is how you identify yourself.
It is key to understand where you feel most comfortable; this takes extensive research, exploration and understanding. I know racially in the United States I am black. I understand that culturally I am Panamanian because of my traditions and values. I identify ethnically with being Afro-Latina because my mother is Panamnain and my father was African-American. This is honestly all a part of what makes up the United States because of the multiplicity and diversity that is present here.
Culture, Ethnicity and Race is essential and you must know and be cautious of your own ethnocentrism.
That is your homework for today and when you find out let us know in our comment section where you feel most comfortable in.