Selected Identities

Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of … Being (Letter on Humanism – Heidegger. Global Religious Vision, Vol. I/I, July 2000).

The poem “We Are”taken from my book Splendor from Ashes,was written from the perspective of a parent operating within the context of the valorization of certain supposedly positive identity markers. Perhaps for ease of existence or in an effort to clarify the world for themselves, there was the parallel occurrence of inferiorizing   and stereotyping of possessors of “negative identity markers”. Consequently, neat oversimplified classifications into ingroups and outgroups characterized the social order.  Should one accept these negative identity ascriptions, then intergroup relationships would flow “smoothly” and naturally in a taken-for-granted way.

Who benefits?

Who benefits from the maintenance of such simplistic and self-serving divides? Whose future and quality of life is under threat or is liable to be compromised by unquestioned acceptance of these ascriptions.  As a people who are given to mindful living, we need to probe beneath the surface realities of imputed identities for the existence of negative ascriptions that may subtly lock us and our children into discrimination and stigmatization.

Selected Identities

Naturally the in-group guards itself against out-group incursions into its ranks by covert sociological reasonings. One outcome is the release of an ‘us and them’ frequency in which identities of subservience are the ripple effects.  As a mindful people we must assess cultural meanings that come with imputed identities, make selections and refusals, and be prepared to war for our selected identities if need be. Why should we be content to live with the out-group status? In the context of the in-group/ out- group designations, in-group subcultures and ways of life are more privileged than others.  On this premise a path is lighted for the classified out-group to act in accordance with assigned stereotypical subtexts.

Again, an aware people must not accept this and as a collective, initiate a course of cultural rejection of the social order that coerces the out- group to act in expected/ designated ways that would empower them to catapult themselves as a group into a selected identity status.

Family reject stereotyping

I for one would not conform to these norms nor would I allow my children to internalize these social categorizations. These in-group/out-group dynamic structures where certain demographics are assigned subordinate and superordinate groups must not remain unchallenged.

The poem “We are” found in my book Splendor from Ashes, that follows, constitutes a rejection of negative cultural identities and their comparative reference points.


We Are (2004)

They are not statistics. They are flesh and blood; in fact they are

my beloved. I’ll slaughter you if you try to put them on that list. A

crazed bull, a sniper’s fire, a terrorist by night will be identifiably

tame by comparison if you touch my progeny. Don’t tell me who I

  1. Don’t tell them who they are. We are who we say we are. We are

not statistics on some eloquent politician’s tongue or mere figures

to be juggled on and off a “nuclear threat list”. We are not who you

force us to be by your fancy rules and your atrophied sociological

theories. We defy you and you and you—bold sucking, stereotyping,

witch-hunting theorists prostituting identities and futures to

your apathetic, lethargic, slothful psychology in your eagerness for

acclaim. We name ourselves, and we are whom we tell you we are,

and not what your forced-ripe theories label us to be.



65 thoughts on “Selected Identities

  1. Beautiful poem! I would not want my children to group themselves into categories either. It’s important to be all inclusive and I actually see that more often than not!


  2. We should each form our own identities outside of what the social sphere ascribes to. Then we also need to step outside the box and view others from a different perspective.


  3. I love the quote you have, “Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of … Being.” In fact, words are things and shape the expression of being. It is important to practice awareness of the words we use so we can include, and create a world that works for all. Evelyn,


  4. We should stop putting people into groups and categories especially if it’s socially accepted for people in the other groups to think that they’re more privileged than those in a different group than them. This post couldn’t have been more perfect.


  5. What an incredibly powerful poem. We shouldn’t judge one another – period. Thankfully, every generation seems to become more enlightened than the last.


  6. This was a really powerful text. I have learnt a lot about the “us and them” through my studying so I know what you are talking about and it is unacceptable that some people still see the world through that “us and them”


  7. We are all humans, so I don’t know why people can’t see past what is on the outside and just get along with one another.


  8. It saddens me that society feels the need to label our children, as if our world was not scary enough. We should be more than just a stat, more than just a number. We are people and deserve to treat each other with compassion and kindness.


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