Self-identification is a complex process, and it includes answers to questions of how a person views his or her ethnicity and culture; whether a person feels privileged or discriminated ideologically, personally, or institutionally; and even how an individual can identify oneself sexually.
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Each person needs to answer all these important questions in order to define his or her identity. I prefer to identify myself as an African American female who is proud of her racial background, therefore, has a singular racial identity; whose sexual identification is similar to many other females in the world; and who refers not to the culture related to ethnicity. As a result, being an African American female in a predominantly white society, I face a kind of discrimination, but I am inclined to live and work to fight stereotypes and prejudice according to my internal feeling and self-identity.
The understanding of one’s identity is important for each person, regardless of race and gender. However, self-identification is a complex process, and it includes answers to questions of how a person views his or her ethnicity and culture; whether a person feels privileged or discriminated ideologically, personally, or institutionally; and even how an individual can identify oneself sexually (Healey, 2012).
Thus, each person needs to answer all these important questions in order to define his or her identity. I prefer to identify myself as an African American female who is proud of her racial background, therefore, has a singular racial identity; whose sexual identification is similar to many other females in the world; and who refers not to the culture related to ethnicity. As a result, being an African American female in a predominantly white society, I face a kind of discrimination, but I am inclined to live and work to fight stereotypes and prejudice according to my internal feeling and self-identity.
Self-identification, ethnicity, and racism
The self-identification of African American women depends on two important aspects that are ethnicity or race and gender. Having a singular racial identity, I prefer to regard myself as a black woman who is a moral person and a professional and who can be discussed equally to white Americans. However, at this stage, I face challenges associated with racism, prejudice, and discrimination in American society (Healey, 2012, p. 213).
In addition, it is important to note that African American women become victims of gender discrimination more often than white women (Thomas, Hoxha, & Hacker, 2013, p. 89). As a consequence, African American women need to cope with ideological racism and the idea that they are worse than white Americans. Another problem is the personal prejudice and discrimination based on stereotypes that African American women are rather immoral. Finally, institutional discrimination can be observed at the workplace, where leaders promote such stereotypes that African Americans are undereducated and dishonest (Hall, Everett, & Hamilton-Mason, 2012, p. 208).
Being a well-educated, financially independent, and professionally competent African American woman, I try to preserve my vision of self-identity in opposition to other people’s attitudes and in spite of cases of discrimination. There are many situations when I cannot use employment opportunities or when I am treated simply according to the color of my skin.
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Prejudice and discrimination
The problem of social attitudes is important to be discussed in detail in the context of self-identification because it is a ground for prejudice. The problem is in the fact that not all African American women can identify themselves easily and accept their identity as a black woman because of social pressure (Settles, Navarrete, Pagano, Abdou, & Sidanius, 2010, p. 249). This situation can become stressful, especially when women face employment problems or personal problems, like sexual identification. I should state that any decision of an African American woman is discussed more skeptically, this fact is also a sign of the focus on the white privilege in American society (Khosrovani & Ward, 2011, p. 135).
African American women need to develop their self-esteem in order to become distant from the public perception of black people, and black women in particular. The social construction of race indicates that white Americans have more chances to avoid stereotyping and discrimination in all aspects of a social life than any other race. In spite of this fact, I am not focused on ‘blackness’, and I work to support the interests of any racial group. Tolerance is an important part of my identity. Still, my identity helps me understand the problems of the black population more effectively, and I try to avoid prejudice in terms of whites.
Self-identification and culture
The culture of choice is also an important aspect of self-identification because individuals need to determine what culture they are referred to and what culture is close to them. I am inclined to share the features and experiences typical of the black culture, and this choice was deliberate and rather predicted. I was educated in a family where all members were proud of their culture. Therefore, regarding myself as part of the African American culture, I feel comfortable.
However, I can be viewed by other people as determined and biased toward other races. From this point, any person who states his or her identity that is different in any way from the majority can face a risk of being prejudiced because any difference can cause the public’s dissatisfaction. In this context, African American women are traditionally regarded as the vulnerable category of the American population (Thomas et al., 2013). However, any public attitudes and visions should not influence a person’s vision of oneself as his or her self-identity.
People feel comfortable when they can identify themselves as belonging to a certain ethnic or cultural group, the members of which share backgrounds and experiences. Concentrating on the question of self-identification, I should state that African American females need to be focused while protecting their right for being equal to other gender and other racial groups. In this case, speaking about self-identity, I also speak about discrimination of different types, about stereotypes and my efforts to overcome them, and about the prejudice that can result in fewer employment opportunities and biased descriptions or discussions of African Americans.
Hall, J. C., Everett, J. E., & Hamilton-Mason, J. (2012). Black women talk about workplace stress and how they cope. Journal of Black Studies, 43(2), 207-226.
Healey, J. F. (2012). Diversity and society: Race, ethnicity and gender. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Khosrovani, M., & Ward, J. W. (2011). African Americans’ perceptions of access to workplace opportunities: A survey of employees in Houston, Texas. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 18(4), 134-138.
Settles, I. H., Navarrete, C. D., Pagano, S. J., Abdou, C. M., & Sidanius, J. (2010). Racial identity and depression among African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16(2), 248-255.
Thomas, A. J., Hoxha, D., & Hacker, J. D. (2013). Contextual influences on gendered racial identity development of African American young women. Journal of Black Psychology, 39(1), 88-101.