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Is it an identity crisis?
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2001

( Bhekin ) I've been watching world events for the past two weeks and, obviously, what happened in America last week has dominated these events. One thing that I found particularly interesting is how this event, like all other similar events, has shaken peoples' identities. People who identified themselves as Americans started fearing what they called an "anti-Arab or anti-Muslim backlash", and in some cases they were proven right by the way things have unfolded. For example, the first people to be suspected (just like in the Oklahoma bombing) were Muslims/Arabs, both those in Arab countries and those who identified themselves as Americans, i.e. those in America. If these people really believe that they are American, why does fear come over them in events like this? If the American government accepts them as Americans, why does it start by blaming them before it finds out who really did it and why?

Blacks in America seem to be in the same situation, those who call themselves African-Americans are treated by other Americans the same as those who identify themselves as Africans in America (the same as other Black people are treated all over the world). Not to mention Hispanics, Red Indians, etc.

What is an American? Who decides?

In South Africa it is the same, most Black people identify themselves as the "rainbow nation" in the "new" South Africa, but President Thabo Mbeki at some stage admitted that there are two kinds of South Africans, those who are white and rich (the minority) and those who are Black and poor (the majority). And then there are also some who identify themselves as "Coloureds", but in the eyes of the "system" they are Blacks. Can Blacks in South Africa be called South Africans when they are treated by the system as foreigners in their own country? Should we be happy with the situation as it is or should these people identify themselves with other Blacks, i.e. those in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Congo, Burkina Faso, etc. If one identifies oneself as a South African, is one saying that Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Congo, Ivory Coast, etc. do not belong to him/her.

What is this thing called identity? Is there a worldwide identity crisis? If there is, how should it be solved?


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