Identity is not inherent. Some people believe that we are born who we are in the sense that our identities are determined by external factors such as race, culture, economic status, national origin, etc. For example, there is the assumption of black male criminality that is fostered in our society. If I accepted this as my inherent identity, then I would be dead or in jail by now. For many, including myself, this belief in an inherent identity to which we must conform or combat creates an internal struggle that overwhelms some, weakens the resolve of others, and challenges the rest of us to overcome this illusion. I agree with what Dorothy West says above, our identity is shaped by these things coupled with a resistance to self-pity. As far as we can prove, we cannot choose the circumstances into which we came into the world of form. We can, however, choose how we leverage the unique challenges and gifts that come with these circumstance. And as we do this consciously, our identity shaping journey becomes evolutionary and expansive.