The Race Around The World

I am launching an interactive series on race and identity, a mosaic of cultural autobiographies. It was inspired by the exchange over my posts on slavery and on black Santa. Race Around The World will offer a glimpse of our diverse stories so that we can achieve a panorama of our racial topography around the globe. Slavery lingers in the human heart in the form of racism and bigotry. With the differences between living in a community and living in community, I’d like to examine how community is possible as people engage one another across racial lines. I am most fascinated with the tension we internalize that makes us conscious of our color and ethnicity. These are two things that give us a sense of belonging, and it will be interesting to look together at the circumstances that make us feel displaced and impel us to locate our roots.

GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATION POSTED 2014

Though race refers to biological attributes like color, and ethnicity to sociological factors such as culture and beliefs, feel free to use the terms as they are meaningful to you.

1) How do you define yourself racially or ethnically and why is it important to you? Please tell us about the racial makeup of your family if you were adopted or come from a colorful family.

2) Where do you live? If you have ever moved, whether to another city or the other side of the world, please tell us when and where, and the ways the cultural differences between the places shaped or made you think about your identity.

3) How diverse was the neighborhood and school you grew up in?

4) When did you first become conscious of your race or ethnicity? Please describe the context or a moment when you noticed you were different in color or language. It could be a scene with strangers, the park, school, work. Could have been subtle feelings you recognized or a blatant attack of bigotry. If it was a season or chapter in your life, tell us the impact it had on your sense of self, confidence, or emotional development. Can you share a bit about the fear, loneliness, longing for acceptance?

5) Do you consciously gravitate to certain company? Are you more comfortable, more at home around people of your own ethnicity? Have you observed a social or behavioral tendency in your own people group you would rather not perpetuate?

6) Are your most meaningful relationships with people of your own ethnicity?

7) How much does racial affinity give you a sense of belonging compared to a shared faith or interest? Think about the groups you are part of: writers, homeschoolers, mothers, hobbyist, artists, colleagues, church. Would you rather spend time with those who share your cultural food, tradition, and values or those who share your interest or mission? Where do you feel the greatest ease and connection?

8) Do you consciously try to keep yourself or your family active in diverse circles?

9) Optional. Children seem color-blind. How have you explained color and culture to your children or grandchildren as they got older? Did you ever have to handle a situation where they were a victim of racial slight or slur?

10) How did you set out to secure a sense of acceptance and belonging in social contexts, especially if you have faced hurtful experiences?

11) Do you feel it is not fully possible or even imperative to shed all racial stereotypes and judgments?

12) What has struck you the most in working through this exercise? Any closing thoughts on race and identity you would like to share?

101 thoughts on “The Race Around The World

      • hmmm…sounds like fun…but, I have to sit down and write it down…and ensure it is honest and humorous( my style)…let me see if i can write something good enough…

      • You can send it – mark RACE in the subject. But I may not include it. Your contribution was on the lengthy side (Yes, I know my own is ha ha. But it’s my blog ha ha ha).

        No promises. Thanks, Alex.

        =)

      • I wasn’t sure when I read your original instructions about what you meant 200 words per question or 200 words in total. I thought of the poem because I wrote a poem that holds a significant piece of my life but it’s not particularly short and it seems that my contribution is already at maximum length so I will not send it.
        Just for the record it would never occur to me to consider your right to post something of any length on your own blog. I am gratefully your guest.
        Alexander

      • I’d said about 200 words on the questions that call for elaboration but I’ve upped it to 400. =)

        My pleasure, Alex. Am under quite a pile at the moment going through the contributions that came in before yours and working on all the other aspects of my blog. Tty when I can.
        You just well may have another occasion to share your poem here. Hold onto it. =)

        HW

  1. I sometimes felt a bit left out, but not because of race, rather because of lack of money or education. Bigoted people I find difficult to get along with. Race or culture does not play a part in this, not at all. Even though I live in a multi-cultural society, I do not actually have a lot of experience with people of a different race or culture other than from books or movies.

      • Thank you so much for asking me this, Diana. I think I should clarify here a few things, not the least to myself. What I meant I am usually not in close day to day contact with anyone from a different race or culture. Culture is really very complicated for us for as migrants we personally experience very much a blending of cultures.
        As far as race is concerned, I can think back to the years when a lot of Vietnamese boat people were received here in Australia with open arms. We did get to know a few of them. All of them were very decent very likeable people. It so happened that our parish priest happens to be of Vietnamese origin. He came came to Australia with his family as a youngster. We are very happy to have him here.
        We also did get to know a few very friendly Philippine women who came here as brides of Australian men.
        Our eldest daughter, Gaby, depended on a lot of care through out her life. She was a quadriplegic in a wheelchair who had to have help with her breathing during the night, meaning she always slept in an iron lung. A lot of her Australian carers came to work for her for a limited time only. Gaby was often quite desperate when she was not able to find enough carers when she needed them. The situation improved remarkably once she was able to employ several migrants from Asia and Africa. I don’t know what she could have done without their help and friendship. They would always have to come in pairs, for one person alone was not allowed to lift Gaby. Gaby needed a few hours help in the morning for getting up, one more hour to be toiletted in the afternoon, and to get ready for bed another hour or so. She also had one woman come in at night time to cook her a meal. Once a week another woman came in to do some cleaning plus laundry. So quite a few paid hours were organised for her staff. It still worked out cheaper than keeping her permanently in an institution. Gaby was happy to be able to move independently about in her electric wheelchair. Nearly every day she went out to collect money for a charity. Of these donations she was allowed to keep one third to herself. And it gave her a chance to go out amongst people and talk to them which she loved. She always claimed that Moslem people were the most generous in giving donations!

      • Amazing story about your daughter (with hidden stories about you and your heartache) and the connections your family has enjoyed through all the surprises and challenges you have faced, AU.

        So very glad you took the time to share with us.

        God bless you.
        Diana

  2. I love this idea/project. This stuff is close to my heart. I hope I can find the time, headspace and concentration to respond to the questions. I’ll certainly look forward to reading the responses of others. Is there a deadline for replies?

    • I purposely left it without a deadline for now. I would welcome your voice – you would enrich the project – as much as I want you to take care of yourself, J. The deadline will depend on the no. of submissions. Two wks sound ok? Not hard and fast. I can work with you.

  3. Diana, this sounds so in line w/ what you were talking about in past posts too regarding creating community- as well as a wonderful way for your tribe to get to know each other and reveal themselves. What a great idea!

  4. What a commendable and extremely interesting project you’re heading up. I will watch with interest. Yesterday I had a class during which we discussed racism–among other “isms” in the fashion industry–and I learned so much from the students who are about to enter that industry. I know there is a blog post simmering somewhere inside me about it but I want to have clear thoughts and write it responsibly and sensitively. Not sure I’m there yet (not sure even if an Irish white girl in NYC has any business weighing in!) but I look forward to reading what happens over here. Good job! 🙂

  5. Unfortunately it is not true that slavery has been abolished. Maybe the United Nations has taken action to see the practice abolished but it is alive and well in parts of Africa, South America and Asia. Forms of it exist in the so called developed world too. Maybe it’s called employment rather than slavery but the economics of it means those thus employed have no way to escape the unequal conditions placed on them and there is no better place for them to escape to in order to better their lot. People are enslaved to money lenders, drug pushers, sex traffickers, religious extremists and in most cases poverty and fear locks them there.

    • I appreciate the correction, Ian. Actually, it was a rare moment on this blog in which I wrote straight through the clarification I fuzzily knew I should make. I was extremely tired from writing all day and had to turn in. I’m going to reword or remove that part when I can. And YES, yes, yes to the insidious forms of slavery in the modern world. So glad you piped in.

    • Simply meant sent me your site addy. URL. Your link. I can do it myself, for you. Just would save me time.

      As you write it up, think about what my readers can get out of it. =) What about it might speak to them. Thanks. Have fun.

  6. Yes, Diana, I would definitely be interested. I’m not sure my thoughts on race are as deep as others you may have, but I will definitely give it my best effort. Thanks for pointing me this direction.

    • Just shoot me your answers when you can according to the guide. This wk would be good but I can wait. I would be happy to feature your writing, Dave. Try to be as succinct as you can, esp on the ques that don’t require much elaboration. And just think about why others would want to read your story. =)

      Good luck!
      Diana

  7. Thoughtful and though-provoking questions. I will try to sit down and work my way through them. We are a mixed-race family, and often these issues can come off the back burner and smack you right in the face.

    • Huh. Wow. I would love my readers to feel something of that smack.

      Please see my response to those who’ve expressed interest on this board. And I would be happy to promote your lovely writing and your blog.

  8. Diana, I promise to come back to take a proper look and read of this asap…got a few writing assignments bearing down on me…but I WILL be back 🙂

      • Thanks so much for the opportunity you are offering me Diana, I do really appreciate it and don’t worry, I don’t feel obliged. I’m honoured that you would think of me…bless you 🙂

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  11. A small peephole into a rich life; that’s what your article was. I could almost imagine it all as I kept reading. This makes me want to explore these aspects in my own life experiences. I think you will get an email from me on this subject soon:).. Thanks for the inspiration:)

  12. Extremely ambitious project! I have finished reading several posts back to back and feel the depth and scope of your participants to be excellent…One of my pet peeves is how the word ‘diversity’ in American politics/mainstream thinking is always limited to specific demographics…
    Your project is bringing to light examples of true diversity from the people ourselves.
    Thank you for this. Will you be gathering it into a book of some sort?
    peace

    • You’re the second reader today to imagine this series as a book, Laura. And for that, I am beginning to begin to entertain the notion of an inkling. (VeRy busy, tired mom here.) The other reader, in her gracious comment, said if she saw these pages in a book she’d buy it. Hmm. Gosh. Bless you.

      Hope you’ve been making music. =) I look fwd to my revisit – when I surface for air.
      Thanks so much for the support!

      Xxx
      Diana

  13. Reblogged this on 2l2phant and commented:
    It has been a pleasure and a treasure following each of these lives ❤ I thank you for doing this and praise God for working in and through you to be a voice on this much needed topic ❤

  14. At this time, I will decline your invitation to join your race around the world due to the fact that I have a full load at the present time. I’d love to participate in the future once my traveling slows down to part time and not full time. If you remember, please contact me in September 2014 and I’d love to start writing and answering your amazing and inspiring questions. The questions you ask are very reflective and require time and commitment.
    Thanks again for your invitation.
    Jessica, Turquoise Compass

    • It’s a good thing you express interest under this post, Jessica. Now I won’t lose it. =) I was, in fact, considering a Round Two sometime down the line after wrapping this series up. We’ll see. Keep up the beautiful blogging, thank you for the dear support of my blog and the series, and the sweet word.

      Diana =)

      • Diana,
        I am happy to support fellow bloggers, especially ones with an intense burning passion. You don’t find that often. Keep in touch and I think a Round Two would be a perfect idea. Maybe on a different theme possibly as well to keep it interesting you and your followers down the line.
        Jessica, Turquoise Compass

      • I’m there already, Jessica. =) I have some drafts going on related aspects to the broader topic of belonging which is what we’re really looking at here. So vast I had to peg it with something concrete like race to help writers hang their thoughts and give shape to experience. So I’ll be addressing the feeling of being different, at some point, as well as class and language. I hadn’t intended to let this particular series on race run long but those who’re supportive have actually blown my mind. Thanks for jogging alongside!! =)

        Diana

      • Yes, I like the idea of identity, belonging, community, and individuality! Great topics for thought! Other traversers can offer a new view which you might not have thought of. I love connecting with others.

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  18. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

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    • The date on that post shows that was a few months ago. We just circled back from our amazing journey, as the recent posts described, and will be sliding into a new series on the same topic of belonging. I appreciate your time.

      HW

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