Now that is an excellent question. On my good days I may be able to tell you, but others I haven’t the foggiest idea. So I’m asking, who are you, what is your ‘identity’, or should I ask where or who do you identify with?
Identity is defined as “social as well as individual factors that create people’s sense of self, the ways in which they can be seen by others and the lives they may expect to live”(Middleton).It can be said that identity has a double sense, there is a personal sense and a social sense. Which sense do you think more suits you, social or personal? For social sense an individual may be classified by age, sex, occupation, ethnicity and so much more. For our personal sense an individual is classified by their personality, whether one is shy, reserved, funny, lively and so much more. Is that our identity though, is that my identity,a few words, does that really describe me, does my country signify who I am? Does yours?
Here in the Caribbean, some may tell you there is no sense of Caribbean identity, while others may tell you that there is. I believe that my country has helped shape me somewhat, into the individual I am today. I believe that the Caribbean has helped me to acquire a sense of who I am. I live on an island in the Caribbean that has been through much, that has been ravaged, with people whose identities were lost, but slowly they found themselves and culture and history was passed on. Even though Barbados has culture and history, I am still unsure of who I am today, my identity is still evolving and changing and slowly but surely I am becoming a better individual of I am today, or four years ago. Do you believed you evolved into someone better?
For some their identity is scared, it may be who they are religiously, or maybe they defined themselves by their ethnicity or maybe sexual orientation. We all strive to be someone better, yet who do we call ourselves, what do define ourselves as? For me,I am a mother, but I am more than the label of mother. I am a strong individual that has been through much in my 22 years, I am a mother yes, but I am also a daughter, sister, a friend, a confidant, a student, an employee, a black woman and yet those few words do not begin to describe who I am or what is my identity.
I am much more than my social status, experiences of my past has shaped me into who I am today, as in right now, because tomorrow something will have changed about me. The Caribbean is a place full of life and from the Caribbean my life has been intertwined with many, from the tourist on the street who I may or may not have given wrong directions to, to the receptionist that checked me into my room and asked, “Which country are you from?” or even when a Bajan asks where I’m from. All these have made me into who I am today. What experiences have shaped you?
I can tell you that I am of the Rastafari faith, yet I question religion, but respect the devout, I love cou-cou and flying fish, our national dish, i sometimes forget the Anthem and Pledge, because lets be realistic about it, I’m not in primary or secondary school anymore so I at times am forgetful, but still yet respectful of those things. I know what my flag represents and know the national heroes, but yet I sometimes detest crop-over, cannot stand to listen to the lyrics of the songs at times and do not enjoy going to Spring Garden on Grand Kadooment day. Yes I am a Bajan, but the way I was raised those things don’t intrigue me, or even register in my brain.
I am a lover of words, Christine Feehan is on of my favorite authors,the Underworld (with vampires and werewolves, which my mother hates) will hopefully always be my favorite movie and my favorite colour will remain purple, even though I hardly wear it. My relationships, my strengths and passions all lead in different paths and yet erupt beautifully to mold me into the individual I am today.
I am a mother of a two year old, who has a bit too much mouth for me at times, a poetess, I think, a reader and occasional writer,black and beautiful, with a pinch of shyness, a tbsp of loyalty, a dash of haughtiness, a cup of sweetness, two cups of a lioness, a hint of my father and 2/3 cup of my mother with 1/3 of Barbados all mixed together. I am Zhaney Quintyne and more than one thing, one person or one country has shaped me into the individual I am today. I am more than a few words, more than my race, age, sex or sexual orientation. My identity is not defined by society, my identity id defined by me. So whether you are an oreo, a smore or just an evolving person, be true to you. I am true to me.
Giles, Judy and Tim Middleton. Identity and Difference. Studying Culture: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. 2001. 30 – 55