Reggae is my Identity. My Best Music is Reggae. This is music the music that I identify with and feel comfortable listening to it. I do find it educating and also representative to my background and history. Bob Marley is my favorite of all times, but still there are new reggae artists who still follows Bob Marleys path of sending messages to the youth and oppressed. Given my background, I am from Africa, I together with my previous generation of families did suffer colonialism and racism also massive discrimation, my great great grandfather was a African Chief and freedom fighter. He was killed by the germans around year 1890s during the colonialism and occupation resistance era. Due to the history, The culture of the African people have been shaped by such events as colonialism, apartheid, racism, slavery etc etc. And because of that, Africans or at least most of them tend to be more likely to embrace the music of Reggae. In the current world, It is normal to hear words such as I am black. I am of African decent. I am Chinese. I am of Korean decent. I am white. I am Canadian. I dont have a race or a culture. These statements are common examples of how many people view their race and identity. Even though many are unsure or unaware of what it really means to have a culture, we make claims about it everyday. Some feel they have a race, while others simply feel they do not. We include based on who fits into this ideal and exclude those who dont. The fact that culture is complex, Our knowledge of culture, ethnicity and identity is subconsciously internalized on a daily basis through constant social interactions. Although the concepts of race and ethnicity are socially constructed, they are real in their consequences. Their affects on the social world can be seen from my very own experiences from institutions, to peer groups, to media representations, and lastly, to how Ive come to view my own sense of identity. Although I longed to feel a part of the bigger group, I kept sane by hanging with other minorities, they were my clique. We were all ethnic minorities and all felt that we belonged in this clique on the basis of feeling excluded from the majority of whites in the school. Based on this exclusion, ethnic symbols such as hip-hop and reggae music were what set us apart and what defined us. Going to school in Africa as a kid, I learned that the world is actually not fair and there is a lot of injustices, At the time I was born, my country was still trying to enjoy the freedom they got from the British in year 1961 december the first. Knowing you history is the best thing in the world, As I travelled around the world for studying and adventure, it is as if there was a shift from being ashamed of my race and culture to embracing it and wanting to showcase it. It was not overnight, and I dont think that there was ever a time where I just changed like that. But I think that it was a process of just starting to become comfortable in my own skin and being surrounded in an ethnic school with all different cultures, and not just whites, that allowed me to really embrace my racial difference. Coming here to the USA, I have found out that High school is where, whether subconscious or not, racial sub-cultures emerge. In high school, cliques are formed on that very aspect of ethnicity and culture. Kids hang out with people that look like them, that dress like them, and with people with whom they feel they can relate. It is in these such enviroments like Universities that I truly began to have a sense of my African culture. I ate all my ethnic foods such as Ugali and salt fish, danced to the reggae music of Sean Paul, sang along to Jay Zs lyrics, and wear my dreadlocks. It was only here that my true outgoing and friendly persona came out. I became a more active participant in the peers cycles, I am in various committees and organizations, and eventually from junior to sophomore. Although I associated with all races, I took pride in hanging with my friends in my ethnic group. Only there could we talk about the latest lyric in Richie Spice song, Some Bob Marley Music and other reggae artists whose music really touches me, or ethnic jokes that only my group of friends would understand, there was where I truly belonged. Part of this new found confidence in my culture had a lot to do with media representations. As I moved through University, black artists had become increasingly popular, and so had urban culture. Hip-hop and reggae music had been brought back to light, and it had taken my fear of being different with it. Not only did I listen to it, I welcomed it with open arms. When I watched television I began to see faces that looked like mine. I could relate to what they were saying. I related to the culture. The culture of music is what helped define my identity, and it is what finally allowed me to have respect for it. The recent emerging of Barack Obama as a prominent black president also inspired me that we are now understanding each other to some degree and that the world is becoming interacted more than it has ever been in the history of the world. Not only did media representations of black culture help me to understand my identity, it also helped redefine it. What I thought it meant to belong to my black culture,had begun to change. Why you cant dance to reggae?, Cant you talk patois (Jamaican language)?,Or Swahili? I began to feel stigmatized by my own black people. Now I had to work twice as hard because I didnt fit in with the whites, and I didnt fit in with the blacks. For blacks I did too well in school, spoke to proper, and wasnt loud enough. For whites I was too loud, liked too much hip-hop and reggae, and had a style that was too ghetto. So again, I began to have doubts as to where I fit in. It was not until the day I took this class of Music as the World Phenomenon did I feel a true sense of identity. It is now since I am older and in university do I understand the power that the media had in reinforcing stereotypes and maintaining racial inequalities. It is this aspect that I continue to struggle with today. As I am plagued everyday with images of black women pregnant, only speaking in slang, fighting, and in music videos half naked. Or Africans who dies everyday for malnutrition, AIDS and preventable diseases. Only within the last few years have I come to understand why I was struggling with fitting in. It is because the media portrays how they perceive the majority of black women. We get caught up in their misconceptions, and just buy into what we think we are destined to become. The media leaves out black women that are in school, church and that are becoming doctors and lawyers. It is through Reggae Music that I have come to a point in my life where I can really embrace my black culture and just be me. I look at the African People and I listen to the struggles that most of them have to endure growing up or getting education, Or simply surviving at a time that Colonialism was still out in the open. It is these stories of trial and triumph that motivate me and allow me to understand that I can be successful and appreciate my culture without feeling less black, or African or Jamaican because I want to succeed, or not listen to rap and reggae music all the time. It is because I have chosen to surround myself with people that have the same values and ambitions as me, and that are educated, rather than just on the sole premise of race, that I have I truly come to slowly understand who I am and where I fit in. Although I am comfortable with my identity today, I know that this is a life long process, and something that will continue to be defined and redefined long after my move into my later adult years. Jmushi.