The Race Around the World: Behind the Scenes

So I’m taking a breather, slowing my pace, taking stock. Behind the unassuming titles in the series has been a lot of work. I have combed through the submissions and tapped some contributors for as many as six drafts for the clearest chronology and descriptions. I would not be surprised if my “Would you please clarify what you mean…” has pursued the poor writers into their dreams at night. The feedback on the Race has been overwhelming. I am deeply grateful for responses like K’lee’s from Obzervashunal:

“[You] touched upon something so universally potent, you have created something so unbelievably amazing here, a groundbreaking series. I know you feel it, but I hope you REALLY feel it. If this were a book I had the privilege of sampling, I don’t doubt I would buy it. It feels so GLOBALLY impactful. Thank you for taking this on!” Other awesome readers who also saw this project as an ebook forced me to consider it, and consider it from several angles I did. I’ve decided it’s not feasible. Even if I had the time to put a book together, the legalities, pricing, copyright present themselves a thicket I don’t have the wherewithal to cut through. You not only have embraced my vision of exploring what is unique and universal across cultures but have dreamed for me. And you pull me up to higher ground. I wish I had more than thanks for you.

I was also taken aback by the response on my own story. One reason writing is a challenge is that you’re so deeply in it. When you’re your own topic, objectivity is even harder, if not impossible. You just don’t see what others do. I was surprised by and appreciated how you took to the glimpse of my autobiography. What I, in turn, found interesting was observing you, my reader. Watching you graciously welcome guests, investing time in their stories, willing to broaden your mental horizon. My own perspectives are limited by my experiences, and so it’s been neat to see others find fascinating an opinion or event that happened not to hit me in any particular way.

I learned how ignorant I am. The back-and-forth with the contributors and readers taught me so much. I kept imagining Simpel Me (who wrote Part 5) was black just for the word Africa – until I added white in the title White in North Africa. I literally had to spell out what color he is to get it. Asian-Australian. Modern-day Lakota Indians. A reader mentioned Black Canadians. I hadn’t realized such groups existed. I also noticed that how we approach life and view ourself very much drive our view on race. It doesn’t go just the other way around, as the questions I’ve posed imply. Elizabeth, for instance, revealed that the fear of being hurt that she carried from old traumas impacted her relationships across racial lines. She, along with two other contributors, shares a bit about what the dialogue over her story did for her:

“Participating in the Race was a fascinating experience. I told my story somewhat hastily, truncating rich experiences and failing to articulate that appearance and accomplishment matter less to me than character and kindness. The responses were overwhelmingly supportive and encouraged me to now engage, rather than stand idly by in the face of intolerance and ignorance. It was during these rich exchanges with the readers that I realized the nebulous hostility I’d sensed from non-whites while growing up was due to this unwillingness on my part to engage and to my own perceptions, rather than reality.

Reading the other contributors was inspirational and daunting. Living as ex-pats, relating the divergent existences of being called a king one minute and living as one of the crowd in a big city the next, and following God’s response to intolerance are some of the highlights from this series for me. Thank you for including me on this journey, my passport and soul heavily stamped with broadened understanding and appreciation from my travels.”  The Race: American Cities, Part 4


Jenni says, “Firstly I’d like thank HW for coming up with this idea and having the tenacity to see it through. The editing and back and forth alone would have taken time as well as balancing the diplomatic knife edge of ‘suggestions’ about another’s writing style and format but I cannot argue with the results. Reading the stories from the Race so far has been fascinating and participating in it myself was a unique experience. It was so strange to put into words ideas that had been nebulous feelings rather than direct insight and having to delve into the whys and wherefores of the past and the role my ethnicity played in it was a more than a little humbling.

It is one thing to ‘know’ that one has been fortunate. It is another to see it baldly exposed with the obvious unfairness between my life and that of those who’ve not been as lucky. Humbling doesn’t really quite cover it – mortifying is probably closer to the truth. I think I would feel worse if I had not realized much of this years ago when I was reaching for ways to rebuild my world. While I had been aware of the doors my ethnicity and class opened for me, I had taken it for granted and not really looked at the why. Writing for the Race I was forced to put into words and so clarify to myself how being a WASP had impacted my life. When I went through my break/melt/shatter down all those years ago I had to rebuild my life all over again. In the process I realised that while the world in which I had always swum was ‘easy’ it wasn’t what I wanted or who I wanted to be, and thus I started to reach for the new and break down some of the ingrained attitudes and test my boundaries regarding how I saw the world and people in it. But it wasn’t until I participated in this project that I gave it ‘formal’ thought or clarified it in a way that could be explained to another.

The honesty in the different posts and the genuine interest and connection others made to my piece and the other participants made me glad that I had been as forthright as I had. I hope to continue to grow into my life and I think the lessons pulled from my subconscious during this task will be of great assistance in the future, giving me a kind of clarity I had lacked regarding the direction I am taking with my journey. Thank you for walking with me for part of the way.”  The Race: Down Under, Part 8


Shazza says, “I’m blown away that anyone cares. My story didn’t seem interesting to me. But I guess when you write it down, it does resonate because so many people have experienced some form of racism. Some of the stories really jumped out at me. I didn’t want to stop reading those. I wanted them to continue.

The dialog, feedback, and follow-up did make what I had to say more meaningful. This exercise opened up my narrow view of racism, and that’s the most exciting thing that happened. I must admit I’m a narcissist when it comes to racism, making it seem as if it only happens to black people for the most part. I know that is untrue, but sometimes I’m short-sighted in my thinking. So I’m glad I’ve been corrected with the bigger picture. I love the bigger picture. It’s so much better. Being in a box is bad, and you just opened mine up. Thank you for that, D!” The Race: Black Canadian in California, Part 9

It struck a chord in me that Elizabeth said being white is important to her and Shazza discovered she loved being black. Being unapologetic about your race. It is what I shared in my own storytelling, that I have come to feel more fully American and more fully Korean than in years past. I thoroughly appreciated Jenni’s humble acknowledgement of and appreciation for the way she’s considered color to have stacked life in her favor at times.

Your encouragement has been fuel for the road. The race continues, onward and upward.



54 thoughts on “The Race Around the World: Behind the Scenes

  1. Well done HW. The series was a joy to read and it was a pleasure to be able to interact with the participants. Thank You. Truly the breadth of the series established a pattern that surprised me. It made me think and see the world in a more understanding way. It must have been a huge amount of work for you interviewing, editing, correlating. Your effort shone through the words. You pulled it all together so the end resut was cohesive and meaningful. Thank you again for all your hard work.

  2. Diana, there is so much depth just in this post alone. I really felt how rich and rewarding and intense and joyful the experience has been. Thanks for letting us into your process as editor-in-chief and sharing the nuggets about how the exploration transformed you and everyone who took part in it. You are really creating something beautiful in this blog space of yours. Hats off to you and bowing in admiration and respect.

    • What encomium. I didn’t think so much of this post as you did, probably because it was about something I myself have built (and so it’s hard to be objective and so on). I really am grateful to hear what it is you have seen on this group journey, Diahann. Though I do think your biases for (as opposed to against) me incline you to a certain outlook on my work. Many, mAny thanks for the faithful, gracious audience, D.

      Wish I could fly over and hug the !@#$ outa you.


  3. D, thanks for taking the time to work with me on this very important series, I still think it would good for you to somehow get it out there to the masses which you have done but maybe someday do it on wider scale. I could see this happening maybe down the road when you are for the most part done raising your little one. But until then, just do what you do, and I can’t wait to read more awesome posts. Thanks for challenging me and the rest of your readers.

    • You’ve thanked me plenty, S. And I really appreciate the encouragement. You helped enlighten and widen our scope. You said it: we are narrow in our thinking. Which translates into narrow hearts. Awesome to be parting curtains, opening windows to a vast horizon.


  4. It is an amazing thing you’ve done here – and by the way I think in regards to the legal issue re an E-book and standard waiver signed by the contributors and a mention in the references would cover it if you ever think again about doing it. This is an amazing piece of work, what I have learnt from reading the journey of others simply amazes me. It is the human aspect rather than the academic approach that has made this so unique and so very touching. I felt a little scraped and hollowed out after the ‘can you clarify…’ but it was worth it to shape those feelings into words that others would take meaning from. You should be so very proud of this as should all those others who’s stories I’ve read. Thank you again for the opportunity.

    • Wow, Jenni. HOW do you manage to give me chills after all the thanks you’ve already given? Actually, an attorney friend of mine who doesn’t deal with intellectual property but whom I tapped for gen’l counsel said what you did, that the waiver should do it. But I’d have to draft it through a lawyer who specializes in the field. I have barely been keeping afloat, esp since homeschooling kicked up a notch last fall. I feel I cut enough corners on my little guy as is just trying to keep up with the blog. Scraped and hollowed out, huh? LOL! I’d apologize but the Grammar Mafia knows it simply had to be done, he he. Thank you for keeping the dream of the book alive. We shall see…perhaps 10 yrs down the line? After wrapping this up with a few more posts, I also did consider running another round of the Race later in the year or next year.
      As I said, I loved your post, J. So much to learn from and admire in it.


      • I understand – it is hard to carve your life into pieces and make sure that the important parts get enough of your time. The good thing about the written word is that it is patient – it won’t go anywhere or change, it will simply wait until such time as seems best for you.

        No need to apologize re the ‘grammar mafia’ I have the habit of writing in the same manner in which I speak and as such tend to ride roughshod over the rules of written expression. It is a good thing to have to go back and pull my words into order – that’s what grammar is after all order out of chaos.

  5. Thank you D for all of your hard work on this series and taking the time to help us discover more about our culture and place in this world. From working with you on this series, I reckon you make a great editor. Yes, your words and questions were very blunt to me in the editing process but they stretched me not only as a writer but as a person too (a teammate). Not all editors I’ve worked with have done this so it’s refreshing to have had that extra push to look differently at my writing.

    Reading the comments above, no question that we all took away something valuable from participating in this series – being article contributors or simply readers – and made many new connections. Agree that our perspectives are limited by our own experiences. I guess a lot of us felt surprised and shocked getting a taste of another culture from reading this series, a very emotive series that touched so many people. I’m all up for the e-book if you ever decide to pursue it.

    This race is only the beginning, a journey for all of us to make. Thank you D for everything.

    • I didn’t realize my “words and questions were very blunt…in the editing process”. LOL I appreciate the gracious response to the ouchees, M, and for the awesome, thoughtful reflections in the face of it and in the series as a whole. I’ve done some editing for others and that’s my thing. =) I’m ruthless with myself on this blog.

      “all took away something valuable” and that it touched lives. What helpful feedback.

      Your closing is just beautiful. The race, only the beginning, huh? Oh, I am honored.

      You opened my eyes to a whole other world over there on the two major cultures you described and embody. Grateful for your time and support, Mabel.

      • The hardest and frustrating times are the ones that we not only remember the most but also the ones that we learn the most from. Always good working with a ruthless editor than a laid-back one – feedback and perspective is always an eye-opening experience.

        The race is indeed only the beginning. In fact, I think it’s a never ending journey. People and culture evolve over time, and so does the scenery around us (learning is a never ending process, too). Just imagine the race as one long drive: driving through straight roads, winding roads, through the country side, city-scapes, up cliffs, down hills, over the summer and then fall. It’s a beautiful sight and a beautiful time as we’re making this journey.

        This blog has brought out so many meaningful stories and words from so many of us all over the world. You should be proud, very proud. Once again, thank you, D. I’m looking forward to coming back to this blog soon 🙂

  6. Tears are in my eyes and threatening to overflow with the beauty of this post. The responses, melded together with your masterful editing and thoughtful story, reveal the movement from in to outside the box, as Shazza so well articulates. I can see it, feel it, know it and it’s beautiful! Thank you, D and all of the other participants and readers for making this experience so meaningful and special.


    PS: Fierce hugs to everyone, and that’s a big step for me :))

    • *Grin* I know it’s a huge step for you, and I embrace back. You leave me speechless, E. I didn’t think or know this post was so beautiful. And I obviously couldn’t have kept this going without support like yours.


      • Grateful to you. Reblogged this on Breaking the Cycle and commented:
        This is a follow-up on the race series, written and compiled by Holistic Wayfarer, in which I participated. I encourage you to check out the other parts, featuring some fantastic people living all over the globe, as well as all of HW’s posts on her site.

  7. Reblogged this on Musings&Rants and commented:
    Hey there wordpress readers, just another shout out to Holistic Wayfarer she’s sharing some reflections on her Race Series, and the comment’s the from contributors could start her on a new series. She has a very deep reflective tone on her blog and her readers are deep and reflective as well.

  8. It was really stimulating and uplifting to follow the interviews. The selection was diverse and the people who shared their experiences and opinions were honest, which is hard on such a delicate topic. That was a great idea to run this kind of blog event. The blogosphere responded well to your challenge. Thank you, Diana.

  9. Everyone has said just about everything there is to say about this exceptional venture you undertook. My only addition is that you showed your genuine concern about other people’s lives. Something people never bother doing nowadays. No one listens but everyone wants to be heard. You showed how reading about each other’s lives can be so enriching. And that everyone matters, wherever they may be from. Thank you for caring in an uncaring world.

  10. Reblogged this on Breaking the Cycle and commented:
    This is a follow-up on the race series, written and compiled by Holistic Wayfarer, in which I participated. I encourage you to check out the other parts, featuring some fantastic people living all over the globe, as well as all of HW’s posts on her site.

  11. Diana, you certainly are hardworking and empathetic with an expectation that your contributors be true and accurate about themselves. It’s starting to make me feel terribly guilty –(me, creeping back to my piece and triple checking more grammar slips or shortening).

    Something happened over the last few days, which makes me want to change some responses. Anyway…I met a Japanese national who is visiting here. It was the first time, I’ve ever gotten to know someone from Japan after spending several hours together. My (few) non-white, close friends of many years have been of Chinese descent and are like me 2nd or 3rd generation. Rest are Caucasian. I’ve never known another person well of other Asian descents ..Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, etc. It’s been just pleasant and superficial.

    Maybe I should blog about this one day or at least a response….

    I would have no problem signing a waiver if you get around to an e-book.

    • 1. LOL! Go ahead and creep back to it, J, before I write you. And before my twin the Grammar Mafia looks at it. And sure, update the content as you’d like.

      2. . “It’s been just pleasant and superficial.”
      Do you mean with the Japanese friend or it’s been just superficial with others?

      3. Do write your post. Unless you’d like to include the thoughts you shared here right in your contribution. That is precisely what I am about: lighting the torch of my readers so thEY go on and light their own blog, their own journey. It’s not about me. It’s about you. =) I am now slowly losing count of the readers who have left here excited to produce a post on their blog, I must say. It is fulfilling.


      • “2. . “It’s been just pleasant and superficial.”
        Do you mean with the Japanese friend or it’s been just superficial with others?”

        Meaning superficial pleasant with other non-Chinese Asian-Canadians. I have worked with Filipinos on a daily basis where I’ve learned all sorts of similarities and differences (more the latter) with Chinese-descent colleagues.

  12. It was an amazing reading for me… Thanks for taking the time and sharing all those stories… It was an amazing reading… Personally, I have never experienced racism, but have heard countless remarks about Spanish people. Those making it do not realize I am Spanish… I try not to take things personally and just let it go, but I do always speak up and say, “By the way, I’m Spanish”… Love to see the expression on their face… Love, Lor

    • LOL Woah, you sure do pull a wild card on them. I’m glad you do, L. I must say it’s interesting you’ve not faced direct racism. I’ve thoroughly appreciated the faithful support. I certainly couldn’t have kept this afloat without dear, open-minded readers like you. =) A few more posts on their way.

      Keep up the beautiful blogging.

      Bear hug,

  13. Reblogged this on Unload and Unwind and commented:
    I took part in Holistic Wayfarer’s Race around the World [which is still running] and this is and intermission catch-up for those of us who’ve participated so far. You should check out the other Race posts are they are truly fascinating.

  14. Hi D,
    Just want to first say thank you for the support and the mention in this article! Been away from my spot for a bit so I missed this!
    You know I appreciate what you’re doing, the lives you are touching, in particular with this fantastic series on race.
    I still feel like you’ve got the seeds to a wonderful and quite necessary book of some sort here. Now may not be the time to pursue it, but I’m a true believer that LIFE will create the opportunities, all we need to do is show up with a little faith and love in our pockets and BAM, magic!

    Keep on doing what you do, D.


      • thanks! we’re all more than we think we are!

        It was the great Nelson Mandela whose words are bought to mind:
        ‘We do not fear we will not be enough, but that we are already powerful beyond measure’

        I truly believe that what NEEDS to happen with that extraordinary house you’ve built will happen… is happening as we speak…type, you know what I mean…

        touching lives, inspiring ourselves and others to reach a bit deeper within and share that light? Yes, absolutely ’cause sharing it’s the only way to receive it!

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