All individuals have their own unique points of view on racial identity. It is important because it gives us the right sense of direction in life. Racial identity is influenced not only by biological factors but also by the environment and culture in which one has lived. A person who has established an incorrect racial identity may have wrong prejudices, and this may lead to discrimination. We can analyze our racial identity through many different categories. I identify myself racially or ethnically as a Korean. I didn’t have to worry about race issues in Korea because I was always in the majority, but I had to think a lot about this issue and study more as I immigrated to the United States. I am trying to embrace a new culture without forgetting my racial identity. There are a number of factors that I can identify myself by racially and ethnically, and these have been very important parts of my life. This essay will help me become a healthy member of society by analyzing and establishing my racial identity from various perspectives.
The cultural identity essay offers a valuable opportunity to delve into the intricate dynamics of race, ethnicity, and personal experiences, allowing individuals to navigate their sense of self within a diverse and ever-evolving society. By delving into multiple perspectives and dimensions, these essays enable individuals to establish a comprehensive understanding of their racial identity and contribute to fostering a more inclusive and harmonious community.
The mountains are closely linked to my identity in an ethnic and emotional way. Since Korea is a mountainous country with 70 percent of its terrain consisting of hills and peaks, anyone can easily visit any mountain if they leave the house without any special plans. For that reason, the mountain is the object of affection for Koreans and hiking has been one of the popular sports activities. I have been hiking with my family every weekend since childhood. I consider the reason that Koreans visit the mountain frequently to be connected with the spirit of loving and protecting nature from ancient times. My mother is a painter and she has always loved to paint mountains. Once I asked her why she drew so many mountains, and she said it was because mountains embody the spirit of our people. Our ancestors attached importance to the attitude of living with nature and liked to inherit the mountains' spirit. The ideas of our ancestors who loved and cared for nature were handed down to me who lives in modern times through mountains. I can say everything about mountains reminds me of my heritage and makes me feel more Korean.
Korean music makes me think I am Korean and reminds me of what I am and who I am. Koreans are especially music-loving people. Since ancient times, they have continued a rich tradition of musical culture. I grew up listening to traditional and old Korean music due to my father collected vinyl records. Thanks to him, I was able to understand the culture and lifestyle of the past by listening to music. I consider a good example that explains my ethnic identity is Arirang. Arirang is the iconic traditional Korean folk song, it embraces the joys and sorrows of the Korean people. Arirang played an important role in forming the identity of the Korean people and binding the community. It makes me feel the “PungRyu spirit” as a Korean. PungRyu spirit refers to the spirit of communicating with God through songs and dances, enjoying nature, and honing Taoism. Music is the best way to identify with a particular culture.
Food culture is an essential element in establishing racial identity. Chopsticks are an integral part of Asian’s daily life since ancient times. Since I was a very young child, I have learned how to hold chopsticks from my parents and table manners. The elder members of my family placed emphasis on the importance of handling chopsticks and were strict in teaching me etiquette for using them. Looking back, they must have wanted to give me a sense of yangban, the Korean noble class. Because Yangbans valued the right etiquette while dining. Likewise, chopsticks are not just the tool we regularly use for meals, but it is a link that connects me with my ancestors from thousands of years.
I interviewed Claire Kim, one of my Korean-American friends, to get a deeper and broader understanding of racial identity. One of the questions I asked her was “were you always proud of your heritage or was there a time you rejected it?” She stated that she did want to try to reject it, but she respects her parents too much to reject her Korean heritage. The characteristics can be inferred from her answer are identity confusion, respect for her parents, and discrimination by appearance. Claire briefly suffered from an identity crisis in her adolescent years, after thinking about who she was and talking at length with her parents about her identity, she concluded that she was Korean. Her parents did not blame or force her identity confusion. They understood it was natural since she was born and raised in America, and she came to respect her parents who fully embraced her. In the United States, in addition, Asian Americans are perceived to be different from others just by their looks and tend not to belong to a majority group. All human beings, regardless of their appearance, have an equal position and should receive the same treatment since our diverse physical looks are not of much significance. To stop perpetuating prejudices and discrimination, it is important for us to expose ourselves to different cultural ideals and beliefs.
The characteristics one can associate with Korean parents who decided to immigrate to America in particular include devotion, enthusiasm for education, and risk-taking. I asked her how being Korean-American has affected her relationship with her parents. She said her parents always expected her to be smart and stressed the importance of education. In fact, Asian immigrants as a whole have a higher education completion rate than the overall U.S. population (Malik). Asian immigrants who decided to immigrate to America tend to give up their comfortable lives in their country and they are passionate about giving a better education to their children. However, first-generation immigrants face difficulties in their daily lives because of linguistic barriers. In particular, as the first English speaker in the family, their children often act as the spokesperson for their parents. but such a process allowed their children to become closer to them. They may have to bear the financial and mental risks of immigration, but they are committed to the good education and future of their children.
Before the interview, I thought she would define herself as an American because she was born in America but lived longer in America than in Korea. However, my perceptions and ways of thinking changed completely with the interview. She affirmed her identity as a Korean since she had more time to belong and grow up in the Korean community regardless of where she was born. I eventually realized that race distinct on the basis of social characteristics rather than biological. Through my essay, I recognized once again that I was 100 percent Korean and valued the heritage and traditions I inherited. There are a lot of habits and traditions that I grew up with that are still part of my life today, and I look upon these traits with pride because they are part of who I am. I am certain that our histories and experiences shape our communities and mold us into who we are today.
- Malik, Sanam. 'Asian Immigrants In The United States Today. Center For American Progress, 2015,https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2015/05/21/113690/asian-immigrants-in-the-unites-states-today/. Accessed 18 Apr 2019.