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This paper synthesizes the search for identity in a society full of labels of multicultural students and focuses at their plight in attempt to unleash their identity.
Searching for an Identity in a Labels Society
The essay "It's Hard Enough Being Me," relates her experiences as a multicultural American at Columbia University and the confusion that she found herself in as appertains to her identity. She was brought up in Latin America. She was identified with her Mexican background, but at times with her Puerto Rican background. In New York, she discovered that she was perceived "Latina." She noticed that a "Latina" must salsa dance, know Mexican history and be able to speak Spanish. Raya knows none and that label did not apply to her. She was caught in a dilemma of being between a "sell-out" to her heritage, and a "spic" to Americans. She was advised that she should satisfy herself ignoring other people's opinions. (Anna Lisa Raya pg 219-221)
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The information retold by someone who did not live the experiences is perceived as false. For instance white American historians writing about the lives of Chinese immigrants has no accurate account for the lives of the immigrants since they did not document their lives themselves. There is no official understanding of their personal lives or feelings (Yu pg30).
Rodriguez, an American born Mexican, offers the anecdote of his aunt from Mexico City calling him a "pocho" (a person who forgets about his heritage) because he was from "America," meaning the United States. She disputes this by explaining that America is a whole hemisphere (Rodriguez pg 34).
Gomez-Pena, a Mexican who travels to and lives in the United States for periods of time, identifies with whichever culture he is in. If he is in Mexico, then he is a Mexican. If he is in the United States, then he is a Chicano. When he is in Mexico other Mexicans see him as a Chicano, because he has denied his Mexican heritage by going to America, when he is in the United States, Americans see him as another Mexican who has crossed the border to their country (Gomez-Pena pg 23).
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Michigan State student, Melani Saranillo, explains that was comfortable with who she was, but doesn't always know who that someone is. (Carter pg 3).
Trying to find an identity in a society full of labels is difficult for any individual especially for those born with more components to their identity and this is a personal struggle hence people must follow their hearts. Labels do not cover every aspect of an individual and so instead of trying to fit into society's categories, be yourself.