October 4, 2021

Mapping Your Identity

English | español

There is a strong link between identities and the way people think, live, learn, relate, and value. Understanding identities is essential for building strong relationships in our communities. Adults who give space for young people to share their identities can build more inclusive and connected learning environments at home, at school, and in the community. 

One way to do this is by using an identity map. An identity map is a graphic tool used to share, learn, and reflect on the aspects that shape who we are. Identity mapping honors our unique personal experiences (our “me”) and can be used by anyone seeking to build self-awareness and connection with others. Here are some tips to get started: 

  • Begin by acknowledging and honoring your own perspectives and learning styles. 

  • Use stories of culture to encourage members of your communities to share their own stories. 

  • Identify your own beliefs and the reasons you hold them.  

  • Reflect on how beliefs influence your day-to-day decisions. 

  • Name the identities that are most important to understanding who you are. Consider ways to share these with others. 

  • Think about your own personal belief systems and cultural understandings.   

  • Examine cultural assumptions and stereotypes. Use the map to decenter your own experiences. Learn about what others have experienced, not from what our own perception/knowledge tell us they have. 

  • Build interconnectedness by identifying shared personal experiences. 

  • Identify different systems, structures that prevent others from showing up fully in their identities. Use an identity map to support conversations on equity, diversity, and inclusion. i  

Staff members at Healthier Generation recently participated in an identity map exercise with colleagues and family members. This is what they had to share about it:  

“The EDI identity mapping activity provided an opportunity for tenured and new staff to share their lived experience with each other in a safe and positive manner.” - Daniel H.  

“We were able to slow down and listen more carefully to each other, reflect and make meaning of what others share about themselves as it applies to our work, and visualize how it can build upon our strength as a team. Also, being able to practice these listening and learning skills as a team gives me more confidence that we’ll be able to practice them with our partners and constituents outside of the organization.”- Amira R.  

Identity is a complex combination of our roles, qualities, culture, and attributes. When we learn more about our own identities and the identities of others, we build stronger, more transformative relationships.

Understanding who we are is essential for building strong relationships. Use this worksheet to create a personal identity map for reflection and sharing.

Read more in Spanish.

[i] Identity charts. Facing History and Ourselves. (n.d.). https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-strategies/identity-charts

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