Recently a friend of mine who will soon be finishing his Graduate degree in school counseling sent me a few questions about identity. I did my best to be as open as possible and telling my truth. In the coming days I hope to share my responses. Right are wrong these are my personal experiences, my thoughts, and my assumptions. I found that answering these questions became therapeutic and I hope they can help shape me as I grow closer to discovering my purpose here.
QUESTION: Worldview Perspective and identity development: How does your identity affect your experiences and perspective (both professionally and personally)?
My identity affects me every day. Race and how it affects my everyday life is something I am conscience of during most moments of the day. I believe not learning enough about my identity as a k-12 student lead me to wanting to learn as much as I could as an undergraduate. After my first Sociology class once I discovered there was a whole major that spoke to me I knew I had to take as many classes as possible. Knowing the major would never make me any money was okay with me, and to this day still is because knowing myself and becoming a better person was more important to me than how much money I hoped to receive. I became a Sociology and Criminal Justice double major primarily trying to understand institutions of oppression that have effected those whom share my brown skin. This oppression has gone on for years and continues to go on today with no signs of slowing down.
Growing up in Washington State and always attending schools where the hall ways were dominated by white faces exposed me to the good, the bad, and the ugly race relations. While Washington State to many outsiders is considered progressive, many times kids have no filters and the bigotry from their parents shared behind closed doors often end up on the playground.
Growing up with two African American parents from the south I was always proud of being black, and wore the black struggle as a badge of honor. This badge may have lead the younger me into falling into the traps of chasing what mainstream media defined as “cool” or “being” black. Having two parents whom pushed education, eventually I would learn that black was much more than what my television showed me. It was more than a hair style, a dress code, and coded slang.
I still feel to this day the discussion of race scares most white people. The younger me could never understand the disconnect between what I was experiencing everyday living as a young black male, and the image that most of the white people I came across assumed I was experiencing. As I get older I realize that interaction and collaboration is the only way to stop these assumptions. Understanding that social justice isn’t a priority to most people as it is to me.
Professionally, being one of two blacks in my department I constantly find myself losing my masculinity inherently knowing there is a fear of strong black men in mainstream America, This can be intimidating to anyone that feels as though their power is being challenged. When I catch myself changing my tone it constantly pisses me off, because I know that I am not being true to myself. I know that I should not care about such a thing, yet I find myself putting on my “corporate voice” or “white voice”. As ignorant as it sounds, and as educated as I am, I suppose it just happens. It’s definitely a habit I am trying to break. I suppose I am guilty of looking at and judging myself through the eyes of white people. This is known as double consciences a term that was coined by W.E.B. Dubois