The Importance of Identity Essay Example

There are over 7 billion human beings on the globe. Each one of these people possesses some type or multiple types of uniqueness that sets them different from the rest, whether it is physical or a personality trait. This uniqueness becomes part of their identity perhaps an important factor of their identity. A person’s identity is vital because it allows others to see what that individual's background is, what they believe in, and the complex individual they are on the inside.

When two people meet for the first time, they often greet each other and then ask, “What is your name?” A child may greet their parents with the terms “father” and “mother” or some other title. They ask this question and use these terms so that they can identify and call that individual by name or by their title the next time they see them. The everyday terms that are used are labels that identify these people that are involved in an individual’s life. It is important to see how an individual is identified because it makes up who they are. However, can their identity be stolen? Often when adults think about identity theft, they tend to think about criminals using their social security number, credit card number, or some other form of legal identity to steal money from the victim. On the other hand, there is a different type of identity theft that is not commonly thought of that is on the uprise. 

A person’s race is often determined by the color of their skin and their ancestors. Can a person change their race to one of their choosing? “Yes, millions do,” said study co-author Carolyn A. Liebler, a University of Minnesota sociologist who worked with Census Bureau researchers. “And this varies by group” ( According to the Census’s taken in 2000 and 2010 over a million people changed their race. Most of the individuals who had checked the box Hispanic and Some other race in 2000 changed that to Hispanic and white in the 2010 Census. Another one million-plus Americans also changed the race they identified with they changed from Non-Hispanic white to Hispanic white. These individuals who did change their race felt like it was necessary to do so. However, the question remains is a person allowed to change what race they identify with? 

This question is very vital for some because they are mixed with multiple races. The question they may ask is “What race should I identify with?” In the former days of the United States, there was a rule called the “One drop Rule”. This rule states that you are considered black if you have at least one black ancestor. Now that we have advanced past this as a society an induvial of mixed now has a choice of choosing how they identify. Eula Biss relates an experience her cousin had while taking a census in the story “Relations”. She explains, “The census taker marked the box in front of White for me, with no discussion, but my cousin spent quite a bit of time on this question” (Biss, 536). The reason Biss’s cousin had a difficult time answering this question is that she was African American and white. This census made her answer a difficult question as to what her identity was. Biss continues, “Part of the problem was that the list did not include her first choice-Mixed Race. But it did, unlike the 1990 census, allow the census taker to mark more than one race. Eventually, he marked both White and Black” (Biss, 536). This experience Biss’s cousin went through proves that an individual should be given the basic right to choose their race because it is their identity that they want the rest of the world to know them as. Today there are millions of individuals who are mixed races, and they should be allowed to have the basic freedom to verify their race with no questions asked. However, if this is done as a mockery of another race then it should not be done because a person’s race deals with more than just their skin tone it defines their ancestry and culture.

Not only relating to a person’s race, an individual’s background or ancestry can also portray what they believe in and the hardships they had to go through. For instance, an individual mixed with black and white may choose to mainly identify as black because they realize the struggles and hardships that African Americans had to deal with in the early 1800s and they want to symbolize their appreciation for their culture thus they decided to identify as African American. There is a multitude of cases around the world that people choose to identify with one race rather than the other because they want to be part of that culture and identity.

Race can be a large identifying factor of whom a person looks physically, but a person’s true identity is what their character and personality are. Any individual that could be picked out of a crowd could be of a certain race and that is how you can physically identify them, but they are not the same as another person of that same race. For example, Lewis Carroll describes in his story “Alice and Wonderland” that Alice eats a certain mushroom, and her neck becomes extremely long. Eventually, she meets a pigeon who identifies her as a serpent and Alice explains that she is only a mere little girl. The pigeon continues, “’ I’ve seen a good many little girls in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! No, no! You’re a serpent; and there’s no use denying it. I suppose you’ll be telling me next that you never tasted an egg! ’I have tasted eggs, certainly,’ said Alice,” (620). This pigeon compares Alice to a serpent because of her long neck and because she has tasted eggs. This was a new concept to Alice, “that she was quite silent for a minute or two, which gave the Pigeon the opportunity of adding “You’re looking for eggs, I know that well enough; and what does it matter to me whether you’re a little girl or a serpent?” (Carroll, 620). The Pigeon not only compared Alice to a serpent because of her physical look but also by the certain aspect that part of Alice’s personality is that she eats eggs. This Pigeon took certain factors that it had observed of Alice and form its own identity of who Alice was. However, Alice was not a serpent indeed the pigeon did not take the time to learn the full complexity of Alice’s personality. Likewise, an individual is not only defined by their physical aspects but rather their inner self. Perhaps they may like action movies, or they love to take a nice swim in the morning. They may have looked like any other person of that race or family, but they are in no way the same person. The private self of a soul is so complex and unique that there is no question that it is of equal or more importance than the physical self.

Out of a society of billions of people, no one is exactly like the other. The term “one in a million” proves true because everyone’s unique and complex within their ways. This uniqueness of identity makes a person who they are, and it allows others to identify them as such. An individual’s identity is complex because it is composed of their physical appearance, their beliefs, culture, and ancestry, and who that person is on the inside.