who do you think you are? (identity, constructivism, and colonialism)

I am not an African, I am not an American, I am not white, I am not black, I am not a Michigander, I am not a catholic, I am from no country, I am of no nation. I like to consider myself a global citizen, a person of the world. The constructed boundaries of countries hold no bearing in my mind, I see no lines drawn upon the earth and I believe that no falsely imposed blockade of governments can hold me back. We are all people of this world and being so we all hold the same basic hopes and dreams. Everyone wants enough food to eat, clean water to drink, a shelter to be warm or safe, education for themselves and their children, and most importantly to be loved by one another. There are no boundaries when people care.

So you may be thinking, this guy is a crazy social constructivist and an idealist – sure if you’d like to use the language of old, white, men with too much time spent on picking at the elements of human nature, then sure I am a social constructivist and an idealist.

A recent article in the BBC: Identity: Who do you think you are? explores the changing roles of ‘African’ identity. Soon Ghana will be holding its 50th Anniversary of becoming independent from colonial rule. If you do not know the history of Africa and colonialism, the continent was divided at the Berlin Conference of 1884-5 by the leaders of Europe. These leaders gave no attention to ‘nations’ of people, or ethnic groups or lands held, or really anything that would pertain to the continent besides gaining the most property. This led to the division of nations within countries.

What I believe is the most important excerpt from the BBC article follows:

“People should be able to move freely and transcend all forms of mental and physical boundaries. Family and national belongings should not be used to divide us but to better understand each other and bridge our gaps because we have a lot that unites us. I have become a black man in Europe but I try to move beyond that and not to let others impose their will on me. I am what I am because of circumstances and choices I make in life. I believe I am my own country: the clothes I wear are my national flag; the song I sing in the shower is my national anthem and all my body parts are the different departments and ministries of my government. The social ministry goes to the eyes, mouth and ears. The home affairs ministry functions through the heart and the brain and my sexual organs have the most important portfolio covering foreign affairs. To be a human being is to understand oneself by understanding others. This can only be achieved by creating relationships with other fellow humans on the basis of true humanism: one love; one heart and one destiny.”

Who do you think you are? This question I feel goes along very well with YP4’s question of ‘What do you stand for?’ Do you identify with family, ethnicity, religon, region, or country? Who are you and what do you stand for?

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