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Importance and Challenges of Hyphenated Identity Essay

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Updated: May 31st, 2019

Cultural identity is among the most important factors identifying personal affiliation. It also characterizes individuals’ attitude to various social and ethnical issues. Moreover, culture identifies our feelings, as well as how it influences our vision of the world.

According to Bautista, “our cultural identity is weighted against the other as our feelings of acceptance change with each relationship in our communities and our society” (n. p.).

Therefore, cross-cultural interruption has both negative and positive experiences for encountering identities. On the one hand, communicating with people from different cultural background allows a person to gain experience in accepting the traditions of alien culture.

On the other hand, hyphenated identities face challenges while accepting change because it can have a potent impact on their perception. For instance, some individuals may consider balanced identity to be a negative experience leading to loss of connection.

Individual identity highlights the position of a person in a community. In case the identity you belong to is a minority, you can face significant challenges in terms of social status, political situation, and cultural acceptance. The point is that dominating culture will always dictate the principles of ethics and morale for the ethical minorities.

Therefore, maintaining strong feeling of cultural identity is important for possessing and developing the sense of self. It also contributes greatly to better evaluation of the surrounding people.

Understanding individual identity provides people with a greater understanding other identities; it also makes possible to acquire profound knowledge of oneself, including individuals’ perception of alien culture.

In the article at issue, the author argues that understanding and learning more about personal identity provides wider opportunities for self-development and social welfare. It also provides approaches to adjusting to new environments by means of comparing and contrasting various cultures.

Value of culture and sense of belonging are crucial criteria for preserving the national identity. Each person should feel that he/she is part of greater cultural group with a set of ethical and moral principles. Currently, the people get accustomed to living in a multicultural society, which implies greater challenges to cross-cultural interaction.

In particular, due to the dominance of a certain culture, the minorities encounter difficulties in adhering to their ethnic identity. Nevertheless, cultural identity is the only means by which individuals can remain faithful to their culture (Samovar 215).

More importantly, cultural identity can also be regarded in a broader context within which culture act like an umbrella for shaping racial and ethnic identity.

Due to the fact that there are plethora of perspectives and definitions of identity, the concept should be considered from a dynamic angle. Enclosing variations of identity – from personal to social – permits individuals to be aware of their roots and origins.

As it has been mentioned previously, it is natural for the people to retain the sense of belonging. However, when people of foreign origin have to live in a host cultural environment, they unintentionally create a new identity, which often relates to mixed or hyphenated identities.

This is of particular concern to the immigrants who face new cultural and ethnic dimensions. The adjustment to new identities, therefore, is a serious challenge because of the ambivalence of experiences (Bautista n. p.).

Hyphenated identity, therefore, can be considered an integral element encouraging immigration in Canada. In particular, the annual growth of the Canadian immigrants proves a strong homeland community because the newcomers feel immediately members of a community.

The blended identity cannot be regarded as a serious challenge to maintaining cultural and ethnical heritage of minority group. Rather, the policy of hyphenated communities lies in promoting multiculturalism. Cultural capital of the country needs to be internalized by each member of the community for successful integration.

Within this context, hyphenated community is not a problem, but a commitment to the country land. Alternatively, opposing to the dominant culture, there is a possibility of creating psychological ghetto distorting social cohesiveness.

Looking the phenomenon of blended ethnicities and races, hyphenated identity is main condition for creating social identity. Alienation that previously took place in the region generated conflicts and misunderstanding between cultures.

Therefore, blending identities is a kind of compromise for peaceful existence of several cultures. Geographical limitation should not be the major cornerstone for rivalry.

Living in a host country does not imply loss of connection, but searching for the new one that would combine both the old origin and the new identity. In such a way, people can normally co-exist in a multicultural society.

Despite numerous advantages, there are certain controversies that make the concept of hyphenated identity less attractive. According to Bautista, “some many identify at one end of either spectrum where a negative experience may have worked to alienate the other” (n. p.).

To support the idea, it should be stressed that hyphenated identity prevents the immigrants from realizing and establishing the connections. The extent to which people are affiliated to their cultures while living in an alien country influences their awareness of their identity.

Therefore, it is possible to adhere to the original cultural roots and embrace the culture of the host country. However, if an individual seeks to be part of a new culture, it is the right of everyone. According to Dasgupta, “…Individuals have felt the desire to define themselves as part of larger community…[a]t the same time, a large community can often trigger a search for distinctiveness” (11).

Thus, willingness to be recognized as a member of community is natural, but inclusion into a huge community, such as Canadian society, makes individuals search for differentiation. In order to solve the problem, it is purposeful to consider the communities formed by human race, gender, religion, nation, profession, and family.

Aside from controversies about the question of remaining authenticity and personal identity, the hyphenated identity can also cause future shock. In particular, the Canadian immigrants can be overwhelmed with changes and, as a result, they can experience disorientation and distress.

Though the change occurred to individuals is short-term, it may have a potent impact on belief systems and attitudes to the roles they should perform in the Canadian community. Within these perspectives, hyphenated identity can become dangerous to the future and welfare of a multicultural society.

Therefore, better definition of multicultural identity can provide more optimistic perspectives for further development of the Canadian society. According to Dasgupta, “”Canada is a grand experiment of ethnic mixing, blending, coexisting, interrelating and communicating, which are fare better than ethnic cleansing, suppressing and annihilating” (13).

Thus, it is highly important to distinguish between the process enculturation and acculturation. Thus, originating from other than Canadian culture does not mean that a person should adhere strictly to individual identity. Bautista asserts that being Filipino or native of other country means preserving culture as a second nature.

At the same time, living in Canadian community means accepting the present reality. Moreover, the importance of expressing attitude to reality is enormous because immigrants may respond to, imbibe, accommodate, absorb, or deflect to the new identity. All these decisions are matters of personal choices.

The difficulties in adjusting to the Canadian community as a new social medium lie in the opportunities that the ethnical minorities can take advantage of. This is of particular concern to the second-generation immigrants who are not linked to their cultural roots.

In such situations, they might face tangible confrontation on the part of older generations who prefer observing their ancient traditions rather than endowing the values of the Canadian community.

One way or another, freedoms and rights assigned to individuals should be prioritized to all people irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, and religious beliefs.

Living in the Canadian community, a plethora of ethnic minorities need not face challenges of blending identity. Hyphenated identity should be a problem for the Filipinos because they are not confined to exercising their own beliefs and values.

However, respecting the community they live in should be a sign of creating a multicultural society. The challenges might occur as long as a person starts adjusting to the new cultural and social environments leading to cultural shock and disorientation.

At the first stage, individuals strive to search for their own identities for the purpose of remaining self-confident. Therefore, in order to live in a hyphenated society, a balance should be struck between personal beliefs and the principles accepted in an alien community.

Works Cited

Bautista, Darlyne. Filipino? Canadian? Striking a Balance. Winnipeg Free Press. 2012. Web.

Dasgupta, Ashoke. Hyphenated Canadians: Mixing Cultures, Blending Identities. The New Canadian Magazine. 2005: 9-13. Print.

Samovar Larry A., Porter Richards, and Edwin R. McDaniel. Communication between Cultures. US: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

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