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Special-ism

Posted by on August 10, 2010

Announcing HYBRID AMBASSADORS: a blog-ring project of Dialogue2010

You met our multinational cultural innovators this spring in a roundtable discussion of hybrid life at expat+HAREM. Now in these interconnected blog posts some of them share reactions to a recent polarizing book promotion at the writing network SheWrites. Join the discussion on Twitter using #HybridAmbassadors or #Dialogue2010

I am special. I really am.

I’m from a small country. That makes me special, there are only so many of us out there.

This small country has still made a large impact on several nations in this world; generations of immigrants have sired children eager to get in touch with the ‘auld sod’. These immigrants, while special, were not always welcomed for it.

Ireland has known more than it’s fair share of division. Beliefs running deeper than blood sometimes; political, religious, ideological. The wounds are still barely covered by a paper-thin skin.

I live in a country that has not experienced a flood of Irish immigrants, though a trickle of holiday makers arrive every year. That I live permanently makes me special.

Turkey has known it’s fair share of division. Ethnicity and religion again the cause of strife. This is a gaping wound, still bleeding profusely.

That I married into a rich and varied culture at a global crossing point, makes me special.

Surviving the culture clash this inevitably involves leaves me living as a hybrid, a foot in several worlds. That I can accommodate several points of view makes me special.

Yet I am part of lots of groups.

Group me with Irish, with Turkish, with expats, with writers, with mothers, with entrepreneurs, with women, with family, with friends. Group me with inspiring, uplifting people with whom I can have a meaningful dialogue.

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.

More thoughts on this subject from my fellow HYBRID AMBASSADORS:

Sezin Koehler’s Whites Only?

Rose Deniz’s Voice Lessons from a Hybrid Ambassador

Anastasia Ashman’s Great White People Book Club

Tara Lutman Agacayak’s Circles

Catherine Bayar’s Thicker Skin

Jocelyn Eikenburg’s The Problem with “Chinese Food”

Judith van Praag’s We Write History Today

Elmira Bayraslı’s The Color of Writing

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  • http://www.speakingofchina.com Jocelyn

    Catherine, I loved learning more about you through this piece, which like Tara’s, had a poetic sensibility.

  • blogger

    If you ladies had bothered to really understand what Lori was doing, you would have gotten the joke on her lead-in. You are the polarizing ones. I was the critic who said you were attacking her personally. Come after me– if you have the balls.

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    “Surviving the culture clash this inevitably involves leaves me living as a hybrid, a foot in several worlds. That I can accommodate several points of view makes me special.”

    Catherine, you give us a beautiful example of a writer expressing her innate humanity and unassailable uniqueness in seeking connection with vast others. Thanks.

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    We’re both readers and writers here — and as writers we know we can only make a connection with our readership if we find a way to resonate with them. How our writing may resonate is first in the writer’s hands as choices are made. And then the reader takes ownership.

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    Thank you Jocelyn!

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    Thanks for reading. I have no problem with either you or Lori. This is about Lori’s post got us all thinking on this and other topics. Nothing polarizing about open discussion…

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    Thanks Anastasia! You’ve played a large part in helping me connect through e+H!

  • Anonymous

    Dissonant voices are valuable tools to see where your words are not resonating and become a chance to reconsider if what you express is actually hitting the mark. Or it allows you to see if you are able to hit the note you intended to. A wake of confused people is great feedback.

  • Anonymous

    I love that you talk about “accommodating several points of view” – it makes for flexible thinking and the ability to see more than one side of a story. Thanks for sharing with us, Catherine!

  • http://www.Sezin.org/ Sezin

    Catherine, the poetry in your writings is always the first thing I notice, and this post is no exception. Your play on the word “whitewash” is brilliant, and encapsulates the issue at hand. Whether people choose to admit it or not, we are all hybrids, of life and circumstance, of beliefs and ancestry. The antiquated dichotomy of one or the other does not belong in this new world, and yes, I agree: We are all special.

    In solidarity,

    Sezin

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    Thanks Rose. I think it’s a great thing too. Even the simplest topics take on a myriad of meanings when viewed through several lenses.

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    Sezin my sister! The ability to recognize our own hybridity is a tremendous skill. Not everyone can accept their own inconsistencies or acknowledge their self-deceptive nature.

  • Val

    Very well written.

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

    A well put comment, and a heartfelt post, Catherine. Only by truly looking at ourselves and how we interact with the world – through fear or through compassion – teaches us how to communicate with all our ‘groups’; you’re so right, we each belong to many. Putting labels on each other diminishes us as human beings. We need to learn to talk openly with each other, without defensive joking or harsh words.

  • Anonymous

    Catherine, How brave to write the words “I’m special”. You’re right, to acknowledge and accept one’s differences and uniqueness is a learned ability. To know we are different from those around us, is a lifesaver.
    For some the Aha-moment may never come, they’ll be in for a lifelong upstream battle.
    I used to tell my husband he was special, and in effect that was at moments when I forgave him for not being exactly like me. Over time it has become less and less necessary to tell myself how special he is, there’s an acceptance that turns out to be equal to admiration for all he is that I am not.
    He tends to be so much less judgmental than I am, but I know he thinks I’m special too.
    Thank you so much Catherine, for triggering this response in me!

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