University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. John Ernest, Associate Professor of English
Narrating The Self: The Displacement of Identity
Race and ethnicity are factors that construct identity. This construction is not self-imposed; it is instead created by our society. In a racialized society, cultural differences are not acknowledged; they are grouped and categorized into a conventional package. The focus of this research is to analyze how authors take control of their identity, consequently shaping their own image through the redefinition of words and ideas in their writing. Authors bell hooks, Georges Fouron and Carla Peterson are invisible members of their society. Bell hooks and Carla Peterson are both invisible as black women in America. Georges Fouron suffers double invisibility as a black man and as a black immigrant. Invisibility affects both treatment and their roles in society.
In this research, I examined the historical perspectives of race and how it is different for each author. Each author has a different history that affects his or her perceptions of race. By embracing their differences, we can reveal the similarities in the struggle that each face in America today. This contradiction serves to show that what these authors have in common is a universal struggle. In this study I am looking for ways in which each author empowers him/herself to portray a self that is not restricted to a simplified group. I will analyze how each author writes about other people because the self is seen in relation to other people. Lastly, I will look for common grounds amongst the authors in ways that they identify themselves.
Though black immigrants and black Americans do not share the same history or culture, they are viewed as one and the same. It is therefore important to claim an identity in a society that has already constructed one for you. As we redefine words, we can redefine ourselves in relation to the world and enable the possibility for change to come from the inside out.