Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Division 32 President, Krishna Kumar, PhD: My Identity

Race, ethnicity, and religion continue to plague interpersonal relations throughout the world at the individual, societal, and international levels.  People appear to hold strong beliefs about racial, ethnic, and religious differences and about the inferiority and superiority of their own groups.  These beliefs seem to have no national boundaries.  Such beliefs simply would not go away despite many societal efforts in the form of affirmative action policies, laws, interfaith dialogue, and many positive everyday interactions with peoples from different backgrounds.  Central to such beliefs are the questions  “who am I,”  “who are we,” “are we different from each other,” or “are we pure anything?”
Unfortunately, local, rather than global human community perspectives seem to shape people’s identities.  Thus, traditionally my identity would involve having been born and raised in India in a Hindu family of a certain religious and caste orientation observing practices dictated by my family and speaking a particular language that I claim as my mother tongue. 
I moved from India in 1967 to a new country and adopted it as my home adding a completely new perspective to my identity.  Now I have a new identity as an Asian Indian American living among a variety of people with different belief systems.  Back in India, my relatives may have given me a partial new identity as someone similar to but different from them.
I had my DNA analyzed in an effort to understand my current identity from my ancestry.  What follows may sound like science fiction, but our saliva contains an enormous amount of information.  The DNA analysis was quite telling about the migratory patterns of my ancestors from the beginning of humankind from Africa to many parts of the world.  In this process of continuous migration over thousands of years, my ancestors perhaps like anyone else’s, mixed and remixed with different peoples changing and re-changing their linguistic, religious and cultural practices.  Thus, I realized that my current identity as an Asian Indian born in a Hindu family is simply accidental to my birth in India, which has little or no significance in the larger context of a global human community.  We are all products of such mixtures ever since human beings began to walk.  Race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are not DNA deep.  At this point, I invite you to read about the details of my DNA analysis and their implications written in my blog on PsychologyToday. Com:
By V. Krishna Kumar, Ph.D. on April, 26, 2013 in Psychology Masala
Receiving my DNA analysis on my ancestral migration patterns was an eye opener, making my erstwhile readymade answer “I am from India” not right anymore. Read More

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