By Laura Carroll, MRN Events Coordinator
During my years as a student, I’ve been asked time and time again to reflect on my personal identity. At first, this sort of intense reflection seemed unnecessary, but as I matured I began to reach a deeper understanding of myself and appreciate my multicultural identity within society. As a member of several underrepresented populations, I feel that I have a perspective on life that many do not and will not ever have the pleasure of experiencing.
To aid in this journey of personal reflection, the infamous “Who Am I” poem activity was often assigned. “Who Am I” poems are a great way to increase awareness and encourage self-development among our students and within ourselves. This activity allows participants the opportunity to reflect on various aspects of their identity and/or focus on one specific factor. Each statement beginning with two simple, yet powerful words “I Am…” provides a non-threatening starting point for expression. In sharing these poems, participants can discover similarities that break down barriers and open the possibilities for cross-cultural communication.
As a graduate student, I was at the peak of my multiracial identity development journey and wrote the following piece. I hope you enjoy reading this glimpse into my life. I urge you to take a moment to write your own poem and incorporate this activity with your students. I’d love to read your thoughts and/or your poems!
I am a multi-racial woman who was born to an absent father with skin the color of the earth and a guardian mother with eyes the color of the sky.
I am a compilation of African American, Scotch, and Irish blood that runs deeply through my veins.
I am a child who was born into an era that did not accept mixed race offspring, hearing disapproval from strangers and receiving cruel stares while walking with my mother and sister.
I am the older sister with darker skin, darker eyes, a wider figure, and tighter curled hair.
I am a multi-racial woman who was raised as a child in a White household and transitioned into my African American community as an adult.
I am a lifelong learner of my cultures through family, friends, community, media, research, and exposure.
I am stuck between several cultures and, no matter what; I am never fully accepted nor rejected by any.
I am a woman who loves herself and proudly shares her mixed heritage with others, while encouraging them to do the same.
I am a multi-racial woman who believes in accepting others for who they are and allowing others the freedom to be themselves.
I am ME.
About the Author
Laura Carroll is the Assistant Director for Educational Equity and Diversity Programs at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. She received her Master of Education in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University and her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Slippery Rock University. Through her personal, graduate, and professional experiences she has developed a strong interest in enhancing multicultural awareness and serving as a supportive resource for underrepresented students.