Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Chalk Circle, Tara L. Masih Guest Post and Giveaway

The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning EssaysThis book contains the voices of many people, people who have faced hate, racism, prejudice, questions, anger, confusion...and now voice their own frustrations. Some of the stories/essays impacted me more than others. The woman who was taught that it was a shame to come "from the dirt" only to return to the dirt because she loved it. (You'll have to read it, okay.) There were other stories that made me think as well, but the one that stood out the most for me was the one about Where Are You From? 

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?

Tara L. MasihWhy 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.

It’s why I empathize with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., when he was confronted on his own front porch. After years of this kind of abuse, how can one not lash out? It’s why I cry for young men like Miami resident Trayvon Martin. And it’s why I want to provide a forum for other such authors to voice their innermost feelings, in the hopes that maybe a police officer, a shopkeeper, or a neighborhood watchman will read this book and learn something about what it’s like to be on the other side.

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. 


  1. This sounds like a very good book. Please enter me in the contest.
    This is a topic that needs to be in the forefront. This is taught to children by there parents. I hope people wake up and realize what there doing to the children by teaching them racism.
    Thanks for posting this Tara.

  2. Tara L. Masih and Tara Chevresst have common ground. I just ordered Deaf Isn't Dumb from Breathless Press. I've read in the description that one of Tara C.'s themes is prejudice. Many in my father's family died of prejudice in Hitler's gas chambers.This is an important theme for me too. Please enter me for The Chalk Circle giveaway.

  3. We all need to be aware of prejudice, which can take very subtle as well as obvious forms. Or it can be disguised as a joke, which is the most hateful prejudice of all, because the person being mocked or abused is then accused of not being able to take a joke. Please enter me in the contest?

  4. Wow this book sounds like an important read. Please enter me into the contest.

  5. The transition from grade school to jr. high tossed me into a group I did not know, and they were mostly Catholic. I was immediately on the outs, and nothing I did could change my classmates' opinion of me. I'm not saying it was prejudice, but that was the effect. The Chalk Circle sounds like a super read, and I hope that I'm lucky!

    Jo Ann Butler

  6. Lovely post and it got me thinking about where I am in my own life.

  7. I trust your judgement Tara when you recommend a good read because I love your writing and your choice of subjects. Please enter me in the contest, I would love to read this book. I've experienced prejudice but not to the extent of either of you lovely ladies. It makes me proud when I see someone that has overcome their difficulties and made their way in the world to do what they want, never taking never for an answer.

  8. I would love to read THE CHALK CIRCLE thank you. It looks amazing.


  9. This sounds like an amazing read. Thank you both.

  10. Too often, people are only aware of the issues that they or the ones close to them suffer. It is refreshing (though on some level sad) to read that others have also suffered social issues such as prejudice.

    Please enter me in the contest,I would love to read this collection of essays.