As a person who is of numerous ethnicities, was born in one country, raised in another, grew up in one state yet resides in a different one, I never know how to answer that question either. I can't sum up who or what I am in a single word or place. So for me, that essay held a lot of impact.
The rest of the book deserves one's attention too, but I'm not going to go on and on all day. LOL Instead, I want to introduce you to a wonderful lady, a mentor of mine, a woman I admire. I would not be in the writing industry if not for this woman's patience and kind words. She edited The Chalk Circle. Please welcome Tara L. Masih. (Does she have a lovely name? *grins*)
Thanks to Book Babe blogger Tara Chevrestt for inviting me to be a guest. While it’s always nice to be asked to guest blog, I’m especially grateful because the topic I want to discuss isn’t an easy one. And I’m grateful she opened the door by asking me: Have you ever experienced prejudice? How did it made you feel?
Why is she asking me this? Because I edited a forthcoming anthology that tackles the subject of race and ethnicity, subjects that are often off limits to discuss in public. The essays are compiled from an annual contest I judge on Interculturalism.
The roots of why I started this contest begin in my own bicultural background. My father is from India, my mother is mostly German and English, raised in the States. Mixed marriages are becoming more common now, but they were few and far between in the early sixties.
I was lucky not to experience much prejudice when I was growing up. But there were those awkward questions: What are you? Which kind of Indian are you? Does your father wear one of those diapers? As someone with a bicultural background, I was able to sit back and observe all ethnicities and to empathize with those minorities who experienced a deeper daily bias.
However, I did experience more prejudice when I left home and came to Boston. For the first time in my life, I was followed around in stores by anxious shopkeepers, who worried I might be stealing. I still experience this, no matter how well I’m dressed. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.
How does it make me feel? It is a complicated feeling that starts in my core. In my gut. It’s a sick feeling of nervousness (like when you are completely innocent of speeding but still slow down when you see a police officer on the roadside), and of mild depression and suppressed anger. What can I say to this person, this stalker? Nothing, because in our culture, confrontation is not encouraged and is a sign of aggression. And can lead, in extreme cases, to arrest and even death.
Thank you, Tara for sharing this with us.
I know many of you, my blog followers/readers, have faced prejudice at some time or another. Remember, keep your chin up. Their words can only hurt you if you let them.
Now, I'm hosting a giveaway for this book. Please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Chalk Circle. Contest runs for one week.
The blurb: Award-winning editor Tara L. Masih put out a call in 2007 for Intercultural Essays dealing with the subjects of “culture, race, and a sense of place.” The prizewinners are gathered for the first time in a ground-breaking anthology that explores many facets of culture not previously found under one cover. The powerful, honest, thoughtful voices—Native American, African American, Asian, European, Jewish, White—speak daringly on topics not often discussed in the open, on subjects such as racism, anti-Semitism, war, self-identity, gender, societal expectations. Their words will entertain, illuminate, take you to distant lands, and spark important discussions about our humanity, our culture, and our place within society and the natural world.