Welcome back darlings! Remember in my last post I spoke about Caribbean people being resilient and all that jazz? Well I’ll talk about that some more in this post as we discuss Caribbean identity.
Before we get down to the “crux of the matter” (aha! that’s a Caribbean terminology), let’s first define what identity is. The individual characteristics, style or manner that is fundamental and recognizable to a person is defined as one’s identity. Identity is influenced by various factors such as personal choice, social and cultural situations within a society. As mentioned in my previous post “Island Roots”, the heartbeat of the Caribbean Identity is its people and our culture. Personally, I believe the Caribbean is one of the most unique places in the world, not because I’m a Caribbean girl but purely on the basis that the Caribbean is one big melting pot, where the varying cultures are intricately intertwined and heavily rooted in its history. Whew!! …to simply put our Caribbean identity is birthed from the history and experiences of our fore-fathers and mothers.
Some people ask themselves the question “is there really such thing as a single Caribbean identity?” Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t, I cannot be too sure. What I do know is that even though we are all classified as Caribbean people we surely are different. Not one of us are alike… not one. You see, the beauty of identity is that we were all molded and fashioned into individual unique beings. Often times when we’re asked to describe ourselves we list things such as our sex, age, height, ethnicity, sexuality, physical appearance, personality, religion, likes/dislikes.
According to Girvan “although we may have similar traits in common we are all have different aspects of ourselves that set us apart from the rest. Identities are relational and contingent rather than permanently fixed. They depend on what they are defined against and this may change overtime.” I can agree with what he’s saying because identities can and do change overtime. What may have defined me as a child I may not necessarily identify with that area anymore.
Our culture also plays a huge role in what shapes us as human beings. I believe that culture and identity go hand in hand. You may disagree with me but that’s okay because that’s all apart of what makes us unique… our differences. Some of us may know exactly who we are and others are still trying to figure some stuff out. Girvan explains that the latter is a belief of “true” selfhood that is found within the psyche of each individual. He also states that each individual has the right to express and protect that uniqueness and this is the basis of humanism. You know what? He’s absolutely right!
It can be said that identities are formed through interaction with others in a cultural context. Through these interactions, people get an understanding of themselves (how great is that!). When people understand the self this opens doors for further interaction and new experiences are developed. Which brings me my next point about the two forms of identity: the personal identity and the private identity/ the lived experience. Fanon explains that “the individual through interpretations of the social realm, will negotiate the public identities or private, one so that one does not find oneself in a pathological situation”
That’s all for now y’all, I hope you enjoyed! Join me next time on our journey to Culture. 🙂