Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out s an anthology of poetry, spoken word, fiction, creative non-fiction, spoken word texts, as well as black and white artwork and photography, explores the question of how mixed-race women in North America identify in the twenty-first century. Contributions engage, document, and/or explore the experiences of being mixed-race, by placing interraciality as the center, rather than periphery, of analysis.
"In a fresh approach to the quest for understanding mixed-race identity in the Americas, the multiple genres that find their way into the Other Tongues anthology -- from poetry to photography, fiction to scholarship -- perfectly mirror the prodigious spectrum of their authors' positions toward the topic. This collection speaks boldly and poignantly to who we are, and by "we" I mean not only women of mixed-race ancestry, but all citizens of 21st-century North America."
- Lise Funderburg, author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity
"These exciting, beautifully inked narratives tell us that, as each woman embraces her biracial or multiracial identity, she mothers a new world, one with equal space for everyone."
- George Elliott Clarke, Africadian & Eastern Woodland Metis, Laureate, 2001 Governor-General's Award for Poetry
"Passionate, courageous and insightful, Other Tongues speaks affectingly about the pleasures and paradoxes of living between the conventional categories of race. It is a significant anthology, one that I've been waiting for."
- Karina Vernon, Assistant Professor, Black Canadian Literature and Diaspora Studies, University of Toronto
Adebe De Rango-Adem is a former research fellow at the Applied Research Center, home of ColourLines magazine, and current Cultural Editor of Race-Talk.org, a blog dedicated to writing on race politics and pop culture. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto's first Junior Poet Laureate, and is the author of Ex Nihilo (2010), her debut poetry collection that considers how art can respond to the annihilation of particular identities struggling to exist in an impossibly post-racial world. Ex Nihilo was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the world's largest prize for writers under thirty.
Andrea Thompson is a pioneer of the Canadian Slam Poetry scene, whose work has been featured on film, radio, and television; and included in magazines, literary journals and anthologies across Canada for over 15 years. Her spoken-word cd, One, was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award in 2005, and her poetry collection, Eating the Seed, has been featured on the reading lists at the Ontario College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto. Thompson is the host of season two of the 13-part television series, Heart of a Poet (Bravo TV, 2007), and the writer and performer of the one-woman spoken word/play "Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar."
About the Contributors:
Sheila Addiscott lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She is mixed race; her mother is Irish and her father is Mauritian. She is married and has six children aged five to fifteen. She is currently writing a children's novel.
Jennifer Adese is a proud Métis woman descended from the historic St. Albert Métis and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Mica Lee Anders is an artist and arts educator based in the Twin Cities. She has shown her work in various venues in the Midwest, at Work Gallery in Ann Arbor, mi, and in Anji, China. She participated in an artist panel discussion at the Loving Decision Conference in Chicago.
Naomi Angel was born in Kochi, Japan and grew up in Vancouver, Canada. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.
Joanne Arnott is a Métis/mixed-blood writer and mother of six young people, all born at home. A frequent presenter and performer, Joanne is author of six books including Steepy Mountain love poetry (Kegedonce Press) and Mother Time: Poems New and Selected (Ronsdale Press). She is one of many Indigenous artist-activists working toward a greater wholesome for us all.
Tasha Beeds is of Cree and Caribbean ancestry. Culturally, she was raised within her mother's Cree and Cree-Métis family in Saskatchewan. Currently, she is in her first year of the Indigenous Studies Ph.D. Program at Trent University. She is also co-editing a book on Indigenous Poetics for Wilfrid Laurier Press. Poetry, for her, is a way of expressing her love of words and her respect for their power.
Ruha Benjamin is professor (of Sociology and African diaspora studies at Boston University) by day and poet by night. She is a Baha'i, a child of the half-light, working to animate unity and justice in the minutiae of every day life and craft r/evolutionary discourses that intervene in planetary strife.
Christina Brobby was born and raised in England but has for a number of years called the city of Whitehorse in Yukon her home. She is presently working on a memoir of her experience finding her birth family, including her journey to Ghana to meet her African family.
Marijane Castillo graduated in Spring 2010 and received a b.a. in Chinese and a minor in Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008 she published Las hojas que caen sin fin, Spanish poetry that explores the end of the Porfiriato in Mexico.
Robin M. Chandler has been a practicing artist-sociologist for more than 30 years and has exhibited in the u.s. and abroad. Chandler has been a guest artist-in-residence in France, South Africa, and the u.s. and her work is included in corporate and private collections in the u.s. and abroad. A widely published author, international lecturer, and development specialist in gender issues, her latest book, Women, War, and Violence: Personal Perspectives and Global Activism (2010), includes her book cover art entitled "Capoeira." Her work as a poet is available on the cd collection Blackout: The Poetry Collection. Her work can be viewed at, on their vimeo, and on her website at.
Gena Chang-Campbell is an intensely hyphenated individual who thoroughly enjoys confounding expectations and dodging labels, racial and otherwise.
Jordan Clarke was born in 1984 in Toronto where she currently maintains a studio. In 2007, she received a bfa in Painting and Drawing from the Ontario College of Art and Design. Her studies included a year in Florence, Italy..
Farideh de Bosset was born in Tehran, Iran where poetry is part of everyday life and conversation. She has been writing poetry in Farsi, French and more recently in English. Her poetry has been published in Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme and Carousel.
Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer whose words travel between Toronto and New York. She recently completed her ma at York University, where she also served as Assistant Editor for the arts and literary journal, Existere. She is a former research fellow at the Applied Research Center, home of ColourLines magazine, and current Cultural Editor of Race-Talk.org, a blog dedicated to writing on race politics and pop culture. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto's first Junior Poet Laureate, and is the author of Ex Nihilo (2010), her debut poetry collection that considers how art can respond to the annihilation of particular identities struggling to exist in an impossibly post-racial world. Ex Nihilo was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the world's largest prize for writers under thirty.
Angela Dosalmas is a spoken-word artist, scholar, mother, warrior and an editor for Spaces for Difference: An Interdisciplinary Journal. She resides in the u.s. with her supportive wife and youngest warrior-daughter hopeful of a post-doc and/or academic position in the near future.
Anjali Enjeti-Sydow lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children. Her essays have appeared in print and online publications including Mothering, Catholic Parent, Hip Mama, and VerbSap. Her essay, "Fade to Brown," is included in the anthology Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Mothering Across Cultures (2009).
Marcelitte Failla was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in rural Gresham, Oregon. She is an artist, filmmaker, seamstress, and community organizer, and has worked with numerous community organizations in New York City. She is a Hunter College graduate and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a fiction writer from Denver, Colorado. Her stories have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review among other publications. She is currently at work on a novel and collection of short stories.
Kay'la "Kiki" Fraser is a poet and youth facilitator who first entered the world of poetry slams in July 2008 and found a way to combine her passion for theatre, music, and writing through spoken word—establishing herself as a serious competitor and artist in the community. She has competed in slams across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, and has shared the stage with artists including C. R. Avery, Truth Is… and Dwayne Morgan. It is a well known fact that she is a cheesecake fiend, a wearer of many hats, and a purveyor of random acts that has been known to drop a poem or two on occasion. For more information contact.
Tomie Hahn is a performer of shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), nihon buyo (Japanese traditional dance) holding the professional stage name, Samie Tachibana, and experimental performance. She is Associate Professor of performance ethnology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Tomie's research spans a wide range of topics including: Japanese traditional performing arts, Monster Truck rallies, and issues of identity and creative expression of multiracial individuals. Her book, Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance (Wesleyan University Press) was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology..
Rage Hezekiah is a queer, BlackIrish, sister, who followed her dreams of farming, dancing, baking, and assisting birth, to Oakland, California. Originally from mostly white suburbs in the Northshore of Massachusetts, Rage has found the queer community of colour she has longed for, as well as love, inspiration, and strength.
Karen Hill is a Toronto-based poet and writer who is working on her first novel. She lived and worked for many years in Berlin and is the mother of 21-year-old Malaika.
Kimberly Dree Hudson is a racially queer femme and pseudo-artist-activist-scholar. Born in Seattle, raised in San Francisco and nurtured in Los Angeles, she is currently a doctoral student in social welfare, personally studying healing and resilience, professionally studying ambiguous social positions and community/organizing.
ku'ualoha ho'omanawanui is a hapa (Hawaiian, Chinese, haole) poet, artist, educator, and malama 'aina advocate born in Kailua, O'ahu, and raised in Wailua Homesteads, Kaua'i. An east-side "Ko'olau" girl her whole life, she currently divides her time between Anahola, Kaua'i and Ha'ikü, O'ahu.
Liberty Hultberg is a freelance writer and editor. She holds an mfa in creative nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh, where she now teaches composition. She's writing a memoir about her experiences with hair, race, and transracial adoption in America.
Michelle Jean-Paul currently works as the vice-principal of a Manitoban high school. She is passionate about issues of identity and equity in educational settings. Her work as founder of the Educators of Colour Network and as a graduate student are examples of that passion put into action.
Sandra Kasturi was born in Estonia to a Sri Lankan father and an Estonian mother. She is the poetry editor of ChiZine and the co-publisher of ChiZine Publications. Sandra's poetry and fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including Taddle Creek, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, TransVersions, On Spec, and Shadows & Tall Trees. She managed to snag an introduction from Neil Gaiman for her first full-length poetry collection, The Animal Bridegroom (Tightrope Books). Sandra recently won the 2010 Whittaker Prize for poetry.
Alexis Kienlen published her first collection of poetry, She dreams in Red, in 2007. She holds an International Studies degree from the University of Saskatchewan, and a graduate Diploma in Journalism from Concordia University and currently works as an agricultural journalist. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis has lived in numerous cities in Canada, and currently makes her home in Edmonton.
Laura Kina is an artist who focuses on Asian American and mixed-race identities. She is an Associate Professor of Art, Media, and Design and Global Asian Studies and a distinguished Vincent de Paul Professor at DePaul University. Kina is one of the founders of the Critical Mixed-Race Studies conference and a board member of mavin. Born in California to an Okinawan father from Hawai'i and a Spanish-Basque/Anglo mother, Kina was raised in the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Chicago.
Jonina Kirton is a Métis/Icelandic poet/author. Her writing, often contemplating the practicalities of embracing a spiritual life, has been featured in Pagan Edge, First Nations Drum, Toronto Quarterly, Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, New Breed Magazine, and emerge: Simon Fraser University's Writers Studio Anthology 2007. Please visit her at.
Erin Kobayashi is a writer, journalist and editor in Toronto. She is currently studying English Literature and Aboriginal Studies at the University of Toronto.
Sonnet L'Abbé is the author of two collections of poetry, A Strange Relief and Killarnoe, both published by McClelland and Stewart. She is working on a new collection that explores the language of plant sentience, neurology, and spiritual development. Her recent work has appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2009 and Best Canadian Poetry 2010. She lives in Vancouver.
Tru Leverette is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Florida where she teaches African-American literature. Her research interests broadly include race and gender in literature and culture, and she focuses specifically on discourses of mixed-race identity and interracial romance.
Sonya Littlejohn was born in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She is of English and Bermudian ancestry. She attended The University of British Columbia for an undergraduate degree in Canadian Studies, graduating in 2002. She teaches English as a Second language and volunteers as Volunteer Coordinator for the Vancouver Poetry House. She is also a member of the Black Dot Roots and Culture Collective.
Michelle Lopez-Mullins is a psychology major at the University of Maryland, College Park and serves as President to the Multiracial Biracial Student Association. She is an artist of many mediums, owns her own clothing line, Hydrolicious Apparel, and hopes to publish her first book before she turns 22.
Miranda Martini is a musician, playwright, and journalist. Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Miranda writes to unpack the experience of growing up half-Black in the prairies. Miranda's work has appeared in various Canadian publications, including Reader's Digest and Discorder Magazine. She currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Kathryn McMillan is a writing specialist in a student learning centre at a greater Toronto area university. Her Master's thesis looks at mixed-race subjectivity in Canadian literature. She is married with a daughter.
Rea McNamara is a writer and editor living in Toronto.
Natasha Morris is a born storyteller and emerging playwright in the Toronto arts community. Her creative roots stem from poetry, acting, and sketch-comedy. Presently Natasha is enrolled in b current's rCurrentz artist development program. Her recent and past theatre training background includes graduating from d'bi young's anitafrika! dub theatre residency program, the Paprika Festival's Old Spice and Creators Unit, and Etobicoke School of the Arts' drama program.
Jasmine Moy is a lawyer and freelance food and travel writer living in New York City. Her work can be found at Esquire.com, Eater.com, The Awl, The Huffington Post, Mediaite and Capital New York.
Cassie Mulheron is a photographer currently based in Richmond, Virginia. She will be graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, a Bachelor of Arts in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies and a minor in Psychology. Her personal work focuses on aspects of racial, gender, and sexual identity through performative photography.
Amber Jamilla Musser teaches gender studies in New York. She is working on a book about the history of masochism.
Nicole Asong Nfonoyim, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City, is a warrior scholar and "artivist" in training. She currently serves as the Assistant Director and Africana Community Coordinator in the Multicultural Resource Center at Oberlin College.
D. Cole Ossandon is a Canadian writer (as well as a musician, actor, and artist), with a Scottish/English/Irish-Chilean background, based in Toronto and Guelph, Ontario. Her work has appeared in Matrix Magazine, Shameless Magazine, Books@Torontoist, and Canada Arts Connect.
M. Ann Phillips, Ph.D. is a mixed-race Jamaican/Canadian renaissance woman of African, Indigenous and European ancestry. Her eclectic talents include: researcher, educator, health and wellness consultant, poet, writer, photographer, natural health practitioner, martial artist and traditional "medicine woman"/shamanic healer.
Amy Pimentel currently resides in Oakland, California and earned her mfa in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She was a Student Teacher Poet in 2008-2009 in the program, Poetry for The People, started by June Jordan. She hopes to win the Lotto so she can visit the Azores islands that her paternal grandparents left decades ago. However, she doesn't ever buy Lotto tickets.
Gail Prasad is an elementary and secondary school teacher of East Indian and Japanese Canadian heritage. She is completing a Ph.D. in Second Language Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and she lives in Toronto with her husband, Michael Sullivan.
Rachel Afi Quinn was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan. Her current research is on mixed race and blackness, queer sexuality, and transnational identity in Dominican popular culture.
mónica rosas is an educator/agitator/artist whose work aims to challenge and provoke community discussion on gender, race and the environment in compassionate ways. mónica is the curator of Cha Cha, a yearly women's literary event in Toronto and she is working on a novel, Salt Water & Cinammon Skin..
Phoenix Rising (Debra M. Guerrero) was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. and is a known poet in the glbt community and varying poetry venues in Denver. Currently, she is a guest instructor of her poetry for a pilot program "Intro to Urban Education" at Montbello High School, Denver.
Margo Rivera-Weiss is of Mestizo Peruvian and Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Margo was one of the co-founders of "Mongrels" a group for women of mixed heritage begun in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s. More art can be seen at.
Lisa Marie Rollins is a Black/Filipina writer, multidisciplinary performance artist, adoption activist, and educator. She is currently developing her one woman show, "Ungrateful Daughter: One Black Girl's Story of Being Adopted into a White Family … that aren't Celebrities." Lisa Marie is the Founder and Director of Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora (afaad) and author of "A Birth Project," a blog focusing on transracial adoption and black diasporic identity and politics. She is a dramaturg, and teaches poetry and writing in both academic and community spaces.
Nicole Salter was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1978 to an Italian mother and African-American father, but grew up in Old Toronto. She currently resides on the Danforth in a fragile ecosystem consisting of one husband, one turtle, two cats, and a multitude of tropical fish.
Marika Schwandt is, among other things: an actor, dancer, and creator from Winnipeg, based in Toronto; Co-Artistic Director of a young multi-arts company called The Movement Project; 2010 oac Playwright in Residence at Mammalian Diving Reflex; one-half of ppmv? Apparel, a streetwear line celebrating mixed-race identity. "Mulatto Nation" is a work in progress..
M. C. Shumaker earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Florida State University in 2002. She resides in Tallahassee, Florida with her mad scientist husband. When she isn't deflecting the question of what she is, she continues to work on the Great American graphic novel.
Shandra Spears Bombay (Ojibway) is an actor, singer, writer, and educator. Her work has been published in several anthologies, including Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, (Sumach) and Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End). Shandra has an Honours ba in Drama and Communication Studies, and is a part-time professor at George Brown College. She is a member of Rainy River/Manitou Rapids First Nations and a member of the wolf clan. Raised in Chatham, Ontario, she now makes her home in Toronto.
Saedhlinn B. Stewart-Laing has lived and worked in the United States, Scotland, Canada, Dominica, and on a research vessel in international waters. She is currently at the University of Glasgow, where she is writing a dissertation on fisheries management and global warming.
Aja Sy was born in Bawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) region of the Robinson Superio Treat area. She is blended ancestry with Anishinaabe roots from Obishkikaang (Bay of Pines/Lac Seul First Nation), Walof and Pulaar roots from Mauritania and European roots. She attends Edmison Heights Public School and performed her first public reading of "pick one" at Sounding Out Indigenous Poetics, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario.
Christine Sy was born and raised in the Bawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) region of the Robinson Superior Treaty area. She is Anishinaabe of mixed ancestry whose roots emerge from Obishkikaang (Bay of Pines/Lac Seul First Nation) through her mother and from Belle Island, Newfoundland through her father. Christine began writing poetry and participating in public readings in 2003. She has read publicly at various student events and magazine launches in Sault Ste. Marie, Peterborough, and Montreal. Christine has published in Algoma Ink, Rampike and Matrix Magazine.
Andrea Thompson is a writer and spoken word artist who has performed her poetry, at venues and festivals in Canada, the u.s., and Europe. Dynamic and innovative, Thompson is a pioneer of the Canadian Slam Poetry scene, whose work has been featured on film, radio, and television; and included in magazines, literary journals and anthologies across Canada for over 15 years. Her spoken- word cd, One, was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award in 2005, and her poetry collection, Eating the Seed, has been featured on the reading lists at the Ontario College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto. Thompson is the host of season two of the 13-part television series, Heart of a Poet (Bravo tv, 2007), and the writer and performer of the one-woman spoken word/play "Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar." She is currently attending the University of Guelph where she is completing a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Debra Thompson completed her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Toronto in 2010. She is currently a sshrc Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for American Political Studies and Department of Government at Harvard University, and will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Ohio University beginning in fall 2011.
Kirya Traber is a nationally awarded spoken-word artist, and has been featured across the country for her work as a writer and performer. She is a former Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam Champion, and has been featured at the United States Mayor's Summit, San Francisco's National Queer Arts Festival, the Stern Grove Festival, and San Francisco's Lit Quake, among other notable stages. Her work has appeared in Tiny Little Maps to Each Other, a First Word Press collection, and in her self-published book of poetry, Black Chick.
Natasha Trethewey is the author of three poetry collections, Domestic Work, Bellocq's Ophelia, and Native Guard (2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry). Her latest book, Beyond Katrina, is a personal account in both poetry and prose of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and of the people there, including her family, whose lives were forever changed by Hurricane Katrina. She teaches creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, where she is the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry and Professor of English.
Priscila Uppal is a poet, novelist and York University professor. Her international publications include Ontological Necessities (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize), Traumatology, Successful Tragedies (Bloodaxe Books), Winter Sport: Poems (written as Canadian Athletes Now poet-in-residence for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games), and To Whom It May Concern. Time Out London (uk) recently dubbed her "Canada's coolest poet." For more information visit <priscilauppal.ca>.
Mica Valdez is a Native, Mixed Blood (Mexica/Swedish/Irish/Spanish), multidisciplinary artist who recently earned a M.F.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry from Mills College in Oakland, California. Her poetry has been published in Mujeres de Maiz, The Womanist, and Kweli Journal and she is currently editing the anthology Turtle Island to Abya Yala (Malinalli Press, expected 2011). http://malinallipress.blogspot.com/
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and compilations, most recently, Home Place 3, Prairie Fire Magazine, and Heute Sin Wir Hier / We Are Here Today, a collection of Canadian Aboriginal writers, compiled and translated into German by Hartmut Lutz and students of Greifswald University. A member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective, and 2010-2011 Blogger in Residence of.Katherena lives, works and plays in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Lisa Walker is a photo-based artist born in the small town of Kitimat in Northern British Columbia, Canada; she is currently living in Vancouver. As a half Haisla First Nations half British female, Lisa attempts to comment on binaries, barriers, and explore duality in identity. Through photography, Lisa encourages others to relate, to remember, and to create dialogue.
Jackie Wang is a writer and artist who is interested in postcolonial feminism, theories of writing, and hard femme identity. Her writings on literature, art, film, music, theory, politics, and culture can be read at. Her work often uses a hybridized style that combines criticism and memoir.
rabble.ca February 10, 2011
Mixed race women speak out
Contributors to Other Tongues explore and celebrate what racial identity means to them
"In the past 20 years Canada has seen a few mixed race anthologies that reflect both the time, place and language that we use to talk about being of mixed heritage and the many complicated social locations this takes us to. The first and the groundbreaking, was Miscegenation Blues: Voices of mixed-race women  edited by Carol Camper and published in 1991. Ten years later I was fortunate to be part of the editorial team for the journal Fireweed's issue 75, the Mixed Race issue, published in 2002.
Other Tongues  collection of personal essays, poetry and visual art is an excellent addition to the body of writing already out there. In a nice circular way that happens sometimes, Carol Camper wrote the introduction. All these years later, most of the issues are the same, but hearing the experiences of women in their 20s and 30s is heartening, even as they bring sadness and frustration at how little has changed.
The pieces are all short to very short, with the longest piece at around six pages and the average length about two pages long. This is one of the anthology's strengths as it can show the breadth and range of experiences as well as the vast array of how women have dealt with / coped with / celebrated what their racial identity means to them in the context of Canada and the U.S., where the majority of the contributors live.
There is no mistaking the power of speaking our own stories: having mixed race women naming our struggles within and between our families, who often force us to deny parts that they deem shameful. Whether that's the parent of colour's family and existence, or how that's linked to working class roots, or the naming of one's identity by others, another continuing theme throughout the collection.
The issue of where mixed race folks are from, where we were born and where we live, are also huge sites of contention, mostly based on what the outside (white) world imagines about mixed race people via badly formed existing narratives. Thus "home" is not always a comfortable place, as it's often demanded to be proven or justified by the outside, and sometimes denied or hidden within the family.
The anthology is in three sections, by theme. Rules/Roles. Roots/Routes. Revelations.
Erin Kobayashi's "Pop Quiz" was entertaining and somewhat funny, since I've been there and anyone identified as "racially ambiguous" has been there. It was also very sad, and steeped in a resignation, annoyance and anger at being constantly told that we don't belong and don't fit into the mono-racial understanding of race and culture that Canada offers.
Naomi Angel's piece "On the Train" speaks to her travels as a young woman in Japan, her birthplace. She encounters a mixed race family, white American father, Japanese mother and a young daughter. The girl is told by her white father to speak English, when she clearly understands, can speak it just fine and is clearly choosing to speak Japanese.
Angel shares her experiences of not being believed that she was born in Japan, but also her rejection by others when she talks about Vancouver being her home.
In "Mapping Identities," Gail Prasad tells a story of growing up in 1970s multi-culti Toronto, in which selected students were photographed and had their photos placed on their country of origin on a large map in the main foyer. She had her photo taken, and then was asked where it should go. Her father is from India, her mother from Japan. Since there was already a student from India on the map (and clearly at age eight Prasad already understood the idea of tokenism which is the underlying value of multiculturalism) Prasad presumed that her photo could be placed on Japan. The teacher was uneasy about this. Eventually Prasad was returned to her class, the photograph in her possession, not added to the mosaic map of multiculturalism for her school. She knew her story was "too complicated" and assumed they found a "real" Japanese student to be placed on the map.
The funniest of the collection is a piece called "The Half-Breed's Guide to Answering the Question" by M.C. Shumaker who describes herself as half Cherokee. The question is, of course "what are you?" and her responses range from "The Obvious" (I'm human) to "The Hulk" (where Shumaker is sarcastic, rude and loud) to "Nothing But the Truth." The last choice takes longer to do, but is worth it in the way it can dispel racist myths.
All in all a wonderful collection, with a large selection of very diverse experiences. Highly recommended."
May Lui is a Toronto-based writer, blogger and occasional contributor to rabble.ca. Her Chinese father and her Romanian/Polish Jewish mother met in Montreal in the 1960s. Don't ask her the "what are you?" question.
Reprinted here with permission from rabble.ca.
Mixed Reader: A Blog of Mixed Race Literature - February 10, 2011
Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speak Out
"I was very excited when this anthology arrived in the mail. Having visted the facebook page and read a call for submissions on Adebe DeRango-Adem's blog, I had high expectations of what the editors would bring together in this book. It definitely held up to my own hype – it is a beatifully arranged mix of stories, personal histories, poetry and artwork that directly address the mixed race experience for women. It is broken into three sections: "Roles/Rules" (the 'what are you' questions, forming identity), "Roots/ Routes" (impact of location, intersections of ancestry and geography) and "Revelations" (wisdom gained from experiences). I found most of the pieces to be very well written and engaging. I highly recommend reading it! (Pick it up from the publisher or Amazon).
Here's some of my favorite quotes from the book:
* "I noticed that often white women and black women had different ways of asking. White women: is that natural or a perm? …Black women: which relaxer do you use?" – Liberty Hultberg, A Mixed Journey From the Outside In
* "You study me. …Without colour, until you are told how to fill it in…Searching my face like it is a map of the world. Placing foreign features…Exoticizing." Erin Kobayashi, Pop Quiz
* "We're huddled on the tiny island of bed, quiet/ in the language of blodd: the house, unsteady/ on its cinderblock haunches, sinking deeper/ into the muck of ancestry" -Natasha Tethewey, Southern Gothic
* "…I really made a concerted effort to appear blacker. My daily concerns involved embodying the cultural representations of what blackness meant to me" -Kathryn McMillan, Whitewashed
* "I am keenly aware that in queer spaces I am more often 'of Colour' and in White spaces I'm more often straight…I get spoken In, I get spoken Out, through microinvalidations and microinsults. …Sometimes I lie. Sometimes not correcting is the lying. Sometimes its not." -Kimberly Dree Hudson, Racially Queer Femme
* "Identity is not a measure of bllod quantum/ it is a nationhood, it is a language, it is a family/ it is in my blood, my blood memory" -Shandra Spears Bombay, The Land Knows
Also see all of Miranda Matini's "The Drinking Gourd," Marika Schwandt's "Mulatto Nation," and Rachel Afi Quinn's "Combination of the Two." As quoted above, Kimberly Dree Hudson's "Racially Queer Femme" rocked my world with its brillance; and for adding the word intersectionality to my discourse of mixed race identity. Thank you to Adebe and Andrea Thompson for editing this awesome anthology and bringing these voices to light."
About jamie-m is a proud mixed chick. An avid reader. A writer.
Highlights of a book review in Canadian Literature, 31 May 2012. Web. 7 June 2012.
Reviewed by Michelle La Flamme
"Several thematic issues are repeated in both Carol Camper's seminal anthology, Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women (1994), and the more recent Other Tongue: Mixed Race Women Speak Out (2010). The writing in both anthologies is a bold testament to the pervasiveness of multiraciality and ultimately counters many social scientific conclusions. The interest in such anthologies is also in keeping with the rise in autobiography and critical race theories. In both fields there is a consistent tendency to privilege personal accounts of the mixed race experience and, as Camper claims in her preface, the importance of "speaking for ourselves" as "experts on our own lives."
The women writers in Other Tongues outline moments of interpellation, the power of the racialized gaze, and the stages of their shifting notions of self based on multiply-coded bodies that challenge monoracial definitions of identity. The work accounts for various individual experiences of "passing" and the complexities of a body that is repeatedly read for signs of authenticity. These writers contest the notion of a "post-racial" world in that these poems, memoirs, short stories, and art work continually reference the fact that visual identifiers of race are understood within "always already" historical and cultural conditions that lead to the racialization of the body despite the individual's efforts (or best intentions) to defy these norms. The editors of Other Tongues suggest that it offers unique perspectives on the "changing racial landscape that [has] occurred over the last decade" in order to offer a "snapshot of the North American terrain of questions about race, mixed-race, racial identity, and how mixed-race women in North American identify in the twenty-first century" in a time that is marked by "the inauguration of the first mixed-race Black president in North America."
…The utter loneliness of being lost in a sea of monoracial faces and the quest to find community is a staple part of these narratives. Such efforts include searching for the self in photographs of family and deeply personal tableaux involving penetrating ontological questions as one faces the mirror. Photographs and visual art appear throughout Other Tongues, forcing the reader to notice their own reading of these mixed-race bodies.
…The next generation of writers will at least have anthologies like this one to digest and reflect upon when they navigate their own experiences of racialization. If it is true that all people require some form of mirroring to develop a stable identity, then these anthologies become the very mirrors that the collected writers themselves searched for while they were growing up."
Adebe DeRango-Adem and Andrea Thompson
Rules / Roles
Christine Sy and Aja Sy
My Sista, Mi Hermana
"Nothing is just black or white"
What Am I?
Casting Call: Looking for White Girls and Latinas
D. Cole Ossandon
Conversations of Confrontation
"why i don't say i'm white"
Mica Lee Anders
Mica Lee Anders
"mma and mla"
Mica Lee Anders
The Pieces/Peace(is) in Me
Generation Gap (Hawaiian Style)
The Incident that Never Happened
M. Ann Phillips
In the Dark
ananse vs. anasi (2007)
Amber Jamilla Musser
A Mixed Journey from the Outside In
What Are You?"
On Being Brown
One for Every Day of the Week
The Half-Breed's Guide to Answering the Question
M. C. Shumaker
Roots / Routes
The Drinking Gourd
"Untitled" White Sequence
"Untitled" Black Sequence
Whose Child Are You?
From the Tree
Lisa Marie Rollins
My sister's hair
I, too, hear the drums
Learning to Love Me
A Conversation Among Friends
The Combination of the Two
Rachel Afi Quinn
"Loving Series: Elena Rubin"
On the Train
Of Two Worlds
What is my Culture?
Siouxjewgermanscotblack [cultural software instructions]
Robin M. Chandler
"Loving Series: Shoshanna Weinberger"
A Hairy Question
Saedhlinn B. Stewart-Laing
Songs Feet Can Sing
Opposite of Fence
Lisa Marie Rollins
Lisa Marie Rollins
Farideh de Bossett
Native Speaker: Daring to Name Ourselves
Nicole Asong Nfonoyim
Colour Lesson I
before i was this
From Chopsticks to Meatloaf and Back Again
Actually, I Am Black
Grey (A Bi-Racial Poem)
Colour Lesson II
racially queer femme
Kimberly Dree Hudson
My Life in Pieces
Burden of Proof: From Cólon-Eyes to Kaleidoscope
Recipe for mixing
The Land Knows
Shandra Spears Bombay
Land in Place: Mapping the Grandmother
"I am the leaf, you are the wind"
Language and the Ethics of Mixed-Race
Hybrid Identity and a Writing of Presence