Identity is both subjective and objective. The very being of who we are not only incorporates the essence of where we come from but also the significant contemplation of who we want to become. Modern Americans fail to establish their own concept of identity as they succeed in letting the materialistic greed of wanting personal possessions stand in their way of their reflection on the essence of their human self. The everyday rituals of modern lives leaves most Americans exhausted with running errands that they fail to take the proper steps to really stop and recall the person they truly want to become. To have an identity is to fully know and understand who we are. Most modern Americans do not take the necessary opportunities to fully contemplate their true being.
An essential part of one's identity is knowing where he or she comes from. Most modern people know where they were born and what racial and ethnical backgrounds encompass them. Even people from centuries ago and whose lives revolved around the chambers of their masters can recall the facts about where they first became a person on this earth. "I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot County, Maryland." (Douglass 47) Even a slave also has a sense of their background. "My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsy Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather. My father was a white man." (Douglass 47-48) From these very short passages, we can observe that this slave was lighter colored than many due to the mixed races of his parents and he was well aware of his ethnical background. Even if someone is not privy to knowing who their parents are, most can figure out their ethnicity by their skin type and/or features. The concept of identifying can also be used in this context.