A production of DIALOGUE2010‘s dynamic conversations on art, culture, and hybrid identity: the HYBRID AMBASSADORS blog-ring.
In a series of interconnected posts, nine of our cultural innovators react to a polarizing “White ambassadors wanted” book promotion at the international writing network SheWrites — taking on the issue of readership and race, xenoconfusion, “the whitewashing of our differences”, and the risks of committing strong opinion to a digital footprint.
Check out each post…
TARA LUTMAN AĞAÇAYAK ~ Circles
“We do have to speak to people in a language that they understand, but we also have the opportunity to draw new boundaries, propose new ways of being and connect in new forums.
“How can you find the place where you belong by choosing to classify yourself instead of letting other people do it for you?”
ROSE DENIZ ~ Voice Lessons from a Hybrid Ambassador
“I acknowledge that my words could leave a trail of anger and resentment or a digital footprint of critical thinking, empathy, and support.
“What if a negative comment is actually a call to action by people who want to support you?
“I’m using my voice to draw attention to what I think was a missed opportunity to garner wide-ranging perspectives and to forge one’s own path instead of doing the expected. ”
SEZIN KOEHLER ~ Whites Only?
“I’ve experienced my fair share of discrimination in my life, and multiple levels of it seeing that I am a product of a biracial union. Never once in all my years as a woman of color has it ever occurred to me that I would need ‘white ambassadors’ for my work.
“The only ambassadors we need for our work are those who believe in us.”
CATHERINE YIĞIT ~ Special-ism
“Do not group me purely for skin-deep reasons. Do not perpetuate those stereotypes you claim to despise. Do not make the mistake that nameless, faceless commercial interests do. Do not alienate me by grouping me for superficial reasons. Do not demean our uniqueness by whitewashing our differences with broad labels.”
CATHERINE BAYAR ~ Thicker Skin
“I’m perfectly comfortable being the only ‘one like me’ when I’m on the road. But now I’m home. I don’t like to be a foreigner on my own turf. Perhaps I need to develop thicker skin. A funny phrase when it is indeed my skin, my features, at odds here.
“If that 1% difference that we human beings have in our various facial features and skin colors is enough to keep us at odds, what hope do we have of ever reconciling cultural, moral and religious differences?”
JUDITH VAN PRAAG ~ We Write History Today
“The indie bookstores I frequent in Seattle don’t show segregated shelves for work by novelists of color.
“Good booksellers will assist customers in finding what they are looking for, the best are able to direct book lovers in new directions.”
ELMIRA BAYRASLI ~ The Color of Writing
“I loved the Brady Bunch. How I longingly envied these golden locked sisters and their blue eyes. Blonde hair and blue eyes were, I believed, what made someone American. And I desperately wanted to be American.
“Even though I was born in Brooklyn, somehow I felt my features, along with my name and religion, kept me from saying ‘I’m an American.’
“In time I saw that I was wrong. Hair, eyes, names and race don’t make someone American. Values and vision do.”
ANASTASIA ASHMAN ~ Great White People Book Club
“Most people hang out in ‘like-minded microcosms’ and when we cross a boundary online the new light shed on everyone’s prejudices and assumptions can take us by surprise.
“We may believe we’re global thinkers, and not be. But we’ve got other challenges. To be a global thinker demands we navigate and find a way to bridge worlds that might make only a sinister kind of sense.”
JOCELYN EIKENBURG ~ The Problem with ‘Chinese Food’
“My father, who used to begrudgingly wolf down a hamburger at Chinese restaurants while we ordered “real dishes,” became a fan of “Chinese food” after attending my wedding in Tonglu, declaring that the banquet food was the finest he’d ever dined on. But he realized the limitations of his palate when, after savoring a breakfast of beef noodles in the suburbs of Hangzhou, couldn’t find anything exactly like it in Suzhou or Shanghai.”
- “it takes guts to empathize with people of different heritage” (Catherine Bayar)
- an eye toward middle ground makes us “catalysts and alchemists rather than victims and bullies” (Rose Deniz)
- “we are all hybrids, of life and circumstance, of beliefs and ancestry” (Sezin Koehler)
- “we don’t have to like everybody’s artworks or literature just for the sake of wanting to be P.C. or open minded. Sometimes showing dislike provides a greater sense of equality than pretense would or could.” ~ (Judith van Praag)
Join the blog-ring: send us the link to your own post on this topic and we’ll send you the Hybrid Ambassadors badge for your site!
Dialogue2010 — the umbrella over Hybrid Ambassadors — is a joint project of Art is Dialogue, Rose Deniz’s series of conversations on curated topics where art is in the exchange of ideas, and expat+HAREM.