Who am I & How do I know what I know?

Both the untitled self-identity poster produced by an unknown student-artist and the story A Kaya Classic focuses on the representation of “Identity” in a way that portrays how identity develops and the complexity behind one’s identity.

I chose “Identity” as my keyword by Karen Coats on page 109 of Keywords for Children’s Literature By: Philip Nel and Lissa Paul. I also selected A Kaya Classic written by Janet Shaw to compliment the strength behind the keyword “Identity”. My primary reaction to approaching this blog post was to search our vast and vague search engine, Google. I wanted to let my mind wander with what the popular photos portray in relation to my keyword search and what “suggested searches” Google so kindly grants me.

I saw recurring photos of a human’s finger print appeared, which made me wonder why this would resonate so deeply with Identity. This representation is not what I expected to see. But if you think about it, your fingerprint is a representation of who you are, where you are from and what you have done and/or accomplished. Who am INo other human being on the planet earth has the exact same fingerprint as you; unbelievable! What stood out to me, is that regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and class and so on, we all have a finger print that looks similar at a distance but they differ in miraculous ways under a microscope. Although this idea is broad, it is the first step to understanding how identity develops. Everyone has a finger print and each one is unique in their own way.

The second step to understanding how identity develops is to listen, witness and or experience the events in life. For example, when Reading A Kaya Classic, I was able to emotionally identify with the ways in which she grew up. Kaya caught salmon in a river, was fearful of stick people, and learned lessons upon lessons, not to mention her escape from slavery. The latter list of events in her novel does not do her life experiences justice, although it does skim the surface of who she is. The Keyword “Identity” proposes many questions similar to those of Kaya, for example “who am I?” and “How do I know what I know?”. These questions, like Coats mentions, is an easy segue to the typical identification labels: gender identity, national identity, sexual identity, religious identity, ethnic identity and class identity. Kaya represents her identity as in the “spirits” as a young Native American female. Her identity is strictly bound by these parameters. As a female, she is compromised which leaves her female work, for example house work. As a Native American, she is looked as wild, less than normal (by thieves) and adventurous. Lastly, Kaya is young, she is not yet an adult who has a full understanding of her behaviors and decisions in life. In addition to her age, sex and background it is common that identity is firmly wrapped around community, which Kaya deeply admires, trust and respects. Individuals like Eetsa, Brown Deer, Toe-ta, Aalah, and Swan Circling challenge Kaya’s manners, personality and most importantly her identity through lessons and tasks. Kaya, like every person in the universe has doubts, insecurities, regrets, hurts and “happies” that are the seed and root of her identity.

Kaya’s identity is complex and unique in every way which inspired me when I came across an untitled identity poster created by an unknown student-artist (for the purposes of this post, I’m going to call it “ShushShush Girl Girl”. The female is simplistically portrayed in one color and with little detail in order to conceal her race and ethnicity. Shush Girl shows that everyone has an identity, and it is complex. This representation examines the interconnections between objects, patterns, dates, words, places and events that formulate her identity. For example, I can deduct from this image that she was born weighing 1 pound and eleven ounces, that she has an interest in the Titans, in cats, dogs, Hyundais, Texas, England, Paris, music, movies, golf, the Mavericks, art graphic design and the belief in Jesus Christ. The female holds her pointer finger to her mouth as to shush her audience because her life is held within her hair (or extended brain) and is to be shared carefully. This “shush” feature in this piece of art complements Kaya’s loss for words when debating whether or not to admit to Swan Circling that she wasn’t all good and perfect; her identity had been skewed by perception.

It would be fascinating to see how Shush Girl could be replicated with Kaya in mind. Can you imagine what would be intertwined within her long braided hair? Maybe faces, nature, thoughts, horses, musical instruments, and her wildest dreams. It is unknown, but great food for thought. I would love to see the same artist create a representation off of A Kaya’s Classic. With art like Shush Girl and children’s literature like A Kaya Classic, young and mature beings have the opportunity to self-reflect on their identity alongside the protagonist or subject.

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