How Does Skin Color Show Up in Life

Humanness is defined as “pertaining to, characteristic of, or having the nature of people”. Despite this narrow definition, humanness is still a subjective term and can be defined differently depending on the person and their own perspectives. Humanness to me is the ability to choose who a person wants to be and how they choose to identify themselves. The environment an individual was raised in and the external factors they have been exposed to throughout adolescence — such as human interaction, geographical influences, etc– help form the idea of self-orientation, in the psychological aspect.

Although some individuals see confusion and indecisiveness as negative things, it is good to know that the process of finding one’s self is part of the process of finding your niche in the world.

Even if a person does not know which conventional social category they fit into the world, this stage of confusion is helping to shape their overall identity. People are perfectly imperfect and all the imperfections are what also makes them human.

Each person views the term “perfection” differently, depending on the values that they hold. It does not matter about what other people say as long as the person knows who they are and has accepted the fact that it is fine to be different and they are who they are meant to be. The way a person views and treats themselves is how that person will act towards themselves. If people are kind to themselves, then they will learn to love themselves as well as love others and form a type of intrapersonal relationship and acceptance with themselves.

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To be human is to be imperfect; it is the matter of how a person will view and act on those imperfections.

In the article, “Self-Dialogue as a Fundamental Process of Expression” Victor Shaw explains that the way a person talks and treats themselves affects the way they view will themselves (Shaw 278). This article uses a psychological and philosophical approach to explain what self-dialogue is and how it affects the way people view themselves. Shaw says that self-dialogue is “a conversation among different identity elements or perspectives within oneself” (Shaw 279). He goes on to explain the question of if it is possible for someone to talk to themselves in different perspectives. Shaw continues and says that it is completely normal and healthy to create an intrapersonal connection with different perspectives (Shaw 279).

Shaw also answers the question of how does “self-dialogue” occur and says that is happens consciously and subconsciously (Shaw 279). It is basically the voice in the back of a person’s head asking if that is truly what they want to do and if they are right act that way. In this sense, it would be as if a person is talking to their subconscious. An individual would develop a way of critically analyzing themselves and situations, while learning to deal with events and aspects in life that did not necessarily go their way. The last question Shaw introduces is “what occurs in self-dialogue?” (Shaw 280). He says that it all depends on the experiences that each person goes through and what the person is going through at the moment. It is how they reason and question why they did certain things and if it was the right decision to do so. It is how a person views themselves and their actions for self improvement.

Shaw says that saying either “I or me” has a difference in how the person participating in self-dialogue will view themself. When a person uses “I”, it gives them a sense of power and freedom in their thoughts and actions (Shaw 281). On the other hand, when a person uses the word “me,” it basically makes the person answer to the wants of the society and the societal norms put in place. Both are necessary with self-dialogue because “I” helps express the feelings and desires of the person, while “me” regulates and sets standards to make sure that any action taken will be accepted by society. The two work together to create an explanation of why things occur. It is about how a person treats him or herself that truly counts in how they will form their identity.

It is all about who the person think they are that makes them the person they become. In the movie Blade Runner, the character Rachel believed she was a human and not a robot with human-like features called a “replicant”. She acted as though she was human no matter what anyone else said otherwise. She genuinely thought she was a human so she acted as such and was treated her as such. It is not about what other people say about a person that makes them who they are, but rather who the person sees themselves to be. Rachel’s identity as a human will remain as long as she continues to believe it rather than allowing what everyone else around her says about her and who she is. Her identity and who she believes she is makes her in a sense have human-like characteristics, even though she is biologically a robot. It is argued that emotion is what differentiates a human from a robot, but in the film, Rachel shows more emotion than the actual human beings in the movie. She viewed herself as a “she” and not as an “it”. In doing so, Rachel created her own identity and disregarded the label set upon her by society.

In contrast, the article ‘Growing Up Where ‘No One Looked Like Me’: Gender, Race, Hip Hop And Identity In Vancouver’ Creese talks about a study conducted about people who migrated from Africa into Canada and how they dealt with and felt about the stereotypes put upon them by society. They expand the study and include the topic of how African women found it hard to feel accepted by their peers in a high school setting. Creese includes a testimony from one of the participants in the study who explains that since he had physical attributes of being an African American male, then he was treated as such and felt as though he deserved it. No one should be labeled and the quality of how a person is treated should not be based on their appearance. To the people around him, the participant reported that he was seen as the way black people were viewed by society and the media. His origins and culture as a Sudanese male was disregarded simply because of the color of his skin and the association society has formed with it. For this reason, it was difficult for him to form his own identity and alter the way other people viewed him as.

The article goes on and talks about how there were also people that were accepted by society because they were identified by their peers as “black”. In a high school setting, they were treated as the “cool kids” because of the strong influence hip-hop culture has on adolescents. Some people were stripped of having a choice in being who they truly wanted to be because of what media has shown as someone that is socially accepted by their peers. Although those people were included in the “popular kids” group, deep down they did not feel good about themselves because they knew they were seen as a form of entertainment. The pressure to fulfil the expectations of others was noted that “[it] undermined [their] real passions and accomplishments” (Creese 211). Instead of working to make a better person out of themselves, they had to submit to societal beliefs of who they should be.

The person’s identity and who they believe they are what makes them human because humans are intellectual and bright. It does not necessarily have to be what category they fit in according to society, but just what category the person wants to identify in. In today’s society, some people are easy to conform to the rules set by other people because they think that it will help them become accepted by their peers and avoid rejection. It is psychologically normal to want to be accepted by peers to help preserve a person’s self-esteem (Cottle). Since people do not want to be rejected, they will change and conform for the benefit of others.

Throughout the process, people would slowly lose themselves and become a whole different person that they did not intend to be. In the essay, “The Ugly Tourist” by Jamaica Kincaid, it talks about how the “tourist” is an ugly person because they do not fit in with the people around them (Kincaid 199). There are people who think that they are not likeable because they are different from the people around them. Kincaid argues that “tourists” work so hard everyday for people to accept them because they see themselves as lesser than the people around them (Kincaid 201). The “tourists” are just regular people trying to figure themselves out and how they fit into the world and society.

They are people who make mistakes and experience life for what it is and seeing the world how they want to see it. Kincaid continues in the essay and offers an alternative point of view of the “native” (Kincaid 201). She talks about how the “native” is jealous of the “tourist” because “they are too poor to go anywhere” (Kincaid 201). The “native” is a person who has conformed to society and practically lost their life and identity because they wanted to fit in with the people around them. They are not necessarily poor in a sense that they are financially unstable, but they are poor in a sense that they have a poor quality of life. The “tourist” strives to be like the “native” to fit in with everyone else but the “native” is jealous of the “tourist” because they are able to live freely and do whatever they want. It should not be the case that people will change their identities to please others because at the end of the day, the only person that knows what is best for themselves is that person.

During the process of self-discovery, it is completely normal to make mistakes. Making mistakes is how we will learn and understand which decisions are best for the future. It is all part of life in which a person will have their better or worse days, but it is about their perspective that will truly make an impact on themselves and on others. Allowing one’s past and mistakes to dictate a person’s life is not only unhealthy, but also unfair. It is completely normal to have times in which a person may not have made the smartest decision, but their mistakes should not define who they are.

In the academic journal, ‘Perseverance In The Effort: A New Standard Of Self-Regulation Associated To Private Self-Consciousness,’ Auzolt analyzes another study conducted by Wiekens and Stapel (2010) who studied the relationship between private self-consciousness and individualistic standards, as well as public self-consciousness and social standards. Between the two journals, there was a difference in the standard of being different and conformity. The experimenters did not observe a strong inverse relationship between distinctiveness and conformity like the original study did.

In the original study, the two public and private dimensions of self-consciousness were positively associated. This did not surprise the experimenter since the fact that the two dimensions are socially valued. Although, the results show that the two dimensions are considered a simple form of self-focus. The article talks about how private self-consciousness is about the traits that one has that cannot be physically seen, and public self-consciousness in which are traits that can be seen physically seen by people (Auzolt 186). Auzolt’s article relates with the topic of identity and humanness because it provides a scientific approach in which compares different studies to their main hypothesis. They said that there is a direct correlation between the how one sees himself and the way people see them. It supports my theory of identity being what makes a person human because it shows that people will be who they want to be. Some people will label others and judge them, but it is all up to the person whether or not they will conform or be themselves.

A person’s actions and experiences also helps to define their identity because it shapes them to be the person that they will or have become. One factor that comes into play in a person’s identity is how one was raised. When a person grows up in a loving environment, they learn that being cared for and caring for others is the proper way to live. Alternately, when a person grows up in a hostile environment, they learn that it is normal for people to act aggressively or violently towards others. Even though one was raised is a factor in who they become, it is all about how they use their experiences to either better themselves or follow the path that was laid out for them by the people that they were surrounded with, whether it be good or bad.

In Zora Neale Hurston’s essay, “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”, she talks about how she grew up not realizing that the color of her skin played a part in who she is (Hurston 186). Hurston was only made aware that the color of her skin mattered when people around her would mention it and tell her about how her grandparents and family are slaves. Although, she did not let the way people treated and talked to her affect the way she carried on her life. She says “[she] do not weep at the world– [she is] too busy sharpening [her] oyster knife” (Hurston). In saying this, she expresses that she does not let what the people around her say about her past and her family’s past as slaves let her affect her outlook on life. Hurston will not look back and sulk and think why unfortunate circumstances happened to her and her family, but rather just simply accepting the fact that it already happened and it is time to move on. Instead of having her identity be a-black-girl-whose-family-and-ancestors-were-slaves, she created her own identity as a strong woman who will fight for herself. Hurston strays from the beliefs and stereotypes put on her by society, and makes her own decisions in who she wants to be viewed as. She created her own identity and rejected the person that people around her wanted her to see herself as.

The concept of identity is incredibly difficult to grasp and fully understand. It can be changed and molded into anything with the help of the extrinsic factors in an individual’s life. Although, it is all about how a person develops and acts towards those outside factors that truly matters. There are people who will attempt to change a person by telling them who they should be and how they should act and view themselves, but at the end of the day, it is up to that person to act and decide whether or not they want to accept that as a truth and change for the benefit of others, or to stay true to who they are and not let the words of outsiders influence their behavior. Identity is what makes us human and it cannot be stripped away no matter what. It may be something that a person takes ages to realizes, but during that process, they are already forming an identity. Identity cannot be stripped away because it is who the person is and how the identify themselves to be. When a person is asked “how do you identify yourself?” there is no right or wrong answer because it is how they view themselves rather than how others view them. There is a difference between when an individual is asked who they are and when someone else is asked who they think the person is. In this sense, the outsider does not fully understand the person. It is all about how the individual views themselves that truly matters.

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How Does Skin Color Show Up in Life. (2022, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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