It Was Always There Looking For Identity In All The Not So Obvious Places Analysis

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In Howard Ramos’s article “It Was Always There? Looking for Identity in All the (Not) So Obvious Places,” Ramos explores identity and to what extent his own cultural identity is defined by himself as well as by others. As a first generation Filipino-American with immigrant parents, I can relate to Ramos’s questioning of his and his father’s heritage and how it can affect the ways people label them. Especially in the modern age of technology where people are able to judge others’ images, faces, bodies, and lives through social media, labels can become an important part of life since it can influence your friends, your choices, and ultimately your future. Being apart of different cultural worlds, my labels and heritage make up a large part of …show more content…
In my own experience, I feel that the culture I portray to the world is a pendulum that swings back and forth; at times when I am with my family and close friends, I feel more Asian and Filipino, yet when I deal with strangers or have to act in formal situations, I feel more American. (Many argue that the American culture does not exist and is actually the lack of a culture due to assimilation, but I personally feel that it is made up of shared American experiences.) Being a group of light-skinned Filipinos, my family is often confused for other ethnicities. Like Ramos’s father in the article, I would often get people who questioned my heritage when I was younger though in less subtle ways. They would ask whether I was Chinese or Vietnamese—or simply speak to me in their respective language—due to my light skin and Asian-looking facial features. Similarly, when I was in Nicaragua, people I would walk by would yell out “china” at me, implying that I am from China. When told that I was Filipino-American, they either denied that I was Filipino or denied that I was American. In both of these ways, outsiders would label me as something I was not; while I did correct them, I did not attempt to emphasize my Filipino-ness to prevent similar problems in the future. Instead, I accepted the all-encompassing label of …show more content…
Growing up in San Jose, California, for example, I was always surrounded by Vietnamese and—to a lesser extent—Filipino students at school. Because my schools were dominated by a Vietnamese population, I tended to drift towards that direction and befriend Vietnamese people. Being Asian was enough to be able to have shared experiences and beliefs with them, yet other parts of their culture I had to learn from them. Slowly, I began to assimilate with the culture of Vietnamese-Americans which has been reinforced through my ideals and experiences shared with friends. Reflecting on my life now, I see that even today a majority of my friends are Vietnamese. I can almost argue I am equally Vietnamese-American as I am Filipino-American, since I cannot speak the languages of either culture, I know about and acknowledge the histories of both, and I have a community of friends in both cultures. In this sense, I have identify myself again as “Asian-American.” As for the American side of my heritage, I have always tended to follow the dominant crowd by watching the popular shows, wearing the popular clothes and accessories, and even speaking the popular way (i.e. Standard American English). Perhaps this was done in an effort to avoid negative labels associated with those who do not fit in with society’s

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