Depending on the person, everyone has different opinions as to how important their identity is. Some may say that their past identity is not of importance to them because they relate to who they have become throughout time and others tend to place importance of where they come from. In his book, In the Name of Identity, Amin Maalouf claims that "each of us has two heritages, a "vertical" one that comes to us from our ancestors, our religious community and our popular traditions, and a "horizontal" one that is transmitted to us by our contemporaries and by the age we live in (Maalouf, 102)." I emphasize both parts of these identities because as Maalouf states in his book, "(it's) not in the interests of fairness or balance, but because any other answer would be a lie." To say that for me I value one heritage more than the other is to lie because they each have equal value and are just a component of my identity. It is important to know that my parents inherited both Dominican and Italian cultures through their family because it gives me a sense of who I am. To know where my family has comes from and witnessing firsthand the
struggles that my family has tackled to provide a better life for their children has made me to appreciate where I am in life.
The heritage I was born into is what enables me to have pride in what I am and in the history of my family. Every day I spend together with my family is yet another day we live by our "vertical heritage," our culture. We communicate in our native language of Spanish as we eat home cooked Spanish goods and hear about what life was like back in the Dominican Republic. About how my father would wake up early to help milk the cows and check the grape vines for insects, all in time for him to make it to class on time. Or how it was my mother's responsibility to cook breakfast for everyone in the morning prior to classes and return home so that dinner would be on the table for her brother and cousins. Though I obviously do not do some of these things being from the city, it gives importance to the values and responsibilities that have been inflicted upon my parents since they were at a young age. Knowing about this gives me honor to have parents that know what hard work consists of and that I am capable of doing these things and beyond.
Having parents who were raised in a completely different community and lifestyle than I was raised in, changes things completely. It does not allow my parents to actually relate to some of things that I have gone through because the pressures that the youth faces in America vary from pressures that are faced in rural country. My "horizontal heritage" is what I can relate to the most because I live it on a daily basis. It influences every decision I make whether it affects what music I listen, what clothes I choose to wear or what I decide to do on a Friday night. This heritage is influenced by each of my peers that bring different aspects to the table, by the media
that creates its own point-of-view on things and by the decisions I make because any decision I make leads to a new encounter. This heritage is of importance because it is what allows me to interact better with others; it slowly gives me the opportunity to establish my own identity as I learn more about myself as I go on. Through my "horizontal heritage" is where I will create my own heritage and lifestyle that will later effect my children because it will slowly convert itself into their "vertical heritage" which is...