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?