Ethnic Identity and Heritage

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Every single one of us has our own unique background – where our ancestors come from, our place of birth, and the special group of people we identify with. All of these can be different and really defines each and every one of us. Our ethnicity is a label for a specific group of people that share different cultural characteristics, like a religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage as well as the place of origin. Our ethnic identity differs from our racial identity in that our racial identity is socially constructed. This means that our classification is decided by society, and it’s usually based off of physical features that group us together in different ways. For example, the shade of our skin tones may classify someone as “white” or “black”, disregarding that person’s ethnicity or where they feel they should be grouped with. Meanwhile, Our ethnic identity consists of traditions from our lives and how we spend our time with our families through religion, values, rituals, etc.

My ethnic identity map does not reflect my family’s place of origin. I have grown accustomed to the classic American lifestyle, and I have seemingly lost my touch with my family’s place of origin. One example of this is that other than the occasional Indian meal my mother cooks, I almost never eat Indian food. For me, personally, I find that my ethnic culture’s food is actually too spicy for me. Instead, I relate mostly to American culture, which doesn’t have food nearly as spicy. One aspect of our family traditions that reflects our ethnicity is how whenever it is someone in our family’s birthday, we take a trip to a hindu temple about 30 minutes away. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know it is for our religion to visit whenever there is a birthday. At the temple, we say prayers, essentially thank all of the main Gods of our religion, and retrieve special food that has been blessed by the priests.

One aspect of my ethnic identity that is very important to me is personal health and fitness. Fitness is very close to me because throughout my childhood and most of highschool, I was overweight and very unhealthy despite having been an active child and played multiple sports. This was a challenge for me mentally as well, since I could see that I was treated differently because of my health, which is not right. However, recently, my family and I have been getting into lots of exercise, some diets, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Our values of prioritizing physical health is very beneficial to our mental health as well, since we all have become more optimistic and focused in life.

My connection to my ethnicity is very weak, as I think that I have adopted habits and customs that are present in America. To me, ethnicity is still a reflection of my cultural background in India. However, by being born in America and not participating in many ethnic activities aside from making periodic trips to local hindu temples, I have lost my connection to my ethnic heritage. Although I am interested in my ethnic heritage, I don’t have the intention to regular attend the temple in the future when I move away from my parents. To me, ethnicity means my personal values, beliefs, religion, and traditions that I perform throughout my daily life. Although they may not reflect my ethnic heritage, I still consider major aspects of my life as a part of my ethnicity as an American.

One experience I have had with my family that captures my ethnic heritage takes place a few years ago on New Year’s Day. We traveled about a full hour to a place near Livermore where there was a very large hindu temple, and probably thousands of people were also there too. After we conducted our normal temple routine, which involves praying, thanking the Gods, and receiving food, my family helped in cooking and passing out food to anybody there. This experience really stood out to me and is important in defining who I am since I am a very caring person, and giving out to the community is a big part of my identity. I love helping others, and an aspect my ethnic heritage is not only about staying loyal to our Gods, but it is caring for our friends, neighbors, family, etc. All of my experiences and aspects of my ethnic identity, although not all reflective of my true ethnic heritage, contribute to who I am as a person as well as who I identify as ethnically.


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Ethnic Identity and Heritage. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/ethnic-identity-and-heritage/

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