Notes Of A Native Speaker Summary

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When music producer, hat connoisseur, and “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams sat down with Oprah in 2014 to discuss his successful life story, we learned of how the star views his identity. Coining the term, “The New Black,” Pharrell explains, “The New Black doesn 't blame other races for our issues. The New Black dreams and realizes that it 's not a pigmentation; it 's a mentality. And it 's either going to work for you, or it 's going to work against you. And you 've got to pick the side you 're gonna be on.” When Pharrell explained his identity with the term “New Black,” he was conferring upon himself a subjective identity – the way in which he sees himself – and making the argument that race alone is not a determinant in life, but what truly …show more content…
This practice of identity formation is explained intimately by Liu, in Notes of a Native Speaker, in which he shares his experience as an Asian-American assimilating to American culture. In his narrative he explains how his parents were not "typical" Chinese parents who adhered to cultural practices of being "pushy, status-obsessed, rigid, disciplined, or prepared." (Liu p.2) His parents instead decided that their children should "mix and match, as they saw fit, whatever aspects of whatever cultures they encountered." (Liu p.2) And in doing so, his identity took the form of social mobility. Stating, “I do not want to be white, I only want to be integrated. When I identify with white people who wield economic and political power, it is not for their whiteness but for their power. When I imagine myself among white people who influence the currents of our culture it is not for their whiteness but for their influence.” (Liu p.5) This mode of living was ultimately successful for him. He went to Yale University, “has been in the inner sanctum of political power [and is] a producer of the culture.” (Liu p.1) In his interview with Oprah, Pharrell states, “I don 't live my life trying to be black, what I do is, I nurture my curiosity in music. I 'm proud to be what I am. You don 't do things because you 're black, you do things because you 're genuinely interested in something.” Pharrell, sees his identity in his music rather than his race and like Liu, it has afforded him great success. They were free to pursue an individual identity based on personal interests and beliefs, however that freedom is not extended to all marginalized individuals of color. The difference between them and others is privilege, and the separation it provides from the quotidian forms of discrimination that many within their respective racial groups must

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