People seem to have a tendency to lump cultural identity in with race or the country a person comes from, but there is more to it than that. In my essay, I show five elements of cultural identity that most agree run in line with what we believe cultural identity to be. It is not a comprehensive list of the elements that make up cultural identity.
Where a person comes from has an effect on his or her cultural identity. Even if a person is of another race and language, the country in which they are born, or the country in which they are now a resident will have an effect on that person’s cultural identity.
People have different genes based on those of their parents, and those genes have markers in them that set people into races. People have evolved certain traits that are still present today. Such traits will eventually become obsolete in a few hundred years when all races have merged, but until that point, a person’s race (aka genetic traits and markers) will make up part of their cultural identity.
What religion a person follows or doesn’t follow may make up his or her cultural identity. This also includes secular (atheist) people, who are just as arrogant in their beliefs as those that believe in a creator and/or organized religion, and it includes thoughtful agnostic people that are smart enough to realize they will never be smart enough to comprehend the mysteries of the universe.
The first language a person speaks will also make up his or her cultural identity. This also includes people who learn another language, even if they speak it poorly. Cultural identity also has something to do with the accent a person has, especially when such accents are tied into cultural stereotypes, such as the hick southerner, or the posh English person.
Putting aside genetic traits, there are some physical traits that make up part of a person’s cultural identity. For example, people that are born with dwarfism will tend to adopt a cultural identity of their own and will often join with other people that have the same conditions. There are also people that are born with certain traits that seem to affect their cultural identity through cultural stereotypes. For example, the bright blonde haired woman that is both beautiful and has big breasts is less likely to become a chemical engineer because of the cultural identity thrust upon her.
All five elements listed in my essay are what make up people’s cultural identity by its broadest and most understood definition. However, the list is not comprehensive because numerous other things can separate people in these groups even further. For example, in religion alone a person may be Christian, but also a hard-core Roman Catholic that lives by different rules to people such as 7th Day Adventists, Protestants and such. The elements I have listed are broad umbrella elements that include more people than they exclude.