Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 56 – Third Culture Kids, Cultural Appropriation, & Identity

Kanchan Gautam and Julián Esteban Torres López discuss their experiences as Third Culture Kids, which then evolves into a conversation about cultural appropriation. Kanchan Gautam is a novice birdwatcher, myco-enthusiast, and amateur naturalist. She is proud of her Nepali heritage and she spends time exploring identity and cultural narrative in Oakland, occupied Ohlone territory. Musical Guest: Annah Sidigu. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Are You Borg Now?

Themes of belonging, of isolation, of expressions of identity, and of the nuances between the African American and the African Immigrant experience arise from a conversation between the author and the author’s inner voice. […]

Creative Nonfiction

In Pandemic Times, A Migrant’s Notes on Home

This personal essay is about the ever-present feeling, as a migrant, of not belonging to any one place. It explores the author’s long line of migrant ancestors, reflecting on whether the accumulation of their experiences have made her feeling of unrooted-ness run even deeper. At the center of the piece is an exploration of the concept of “home,” what that means for migrants and how that can affect our sense of self. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Episode 39 – Kwatsáan: Ancestral Land, Myths, & Reparations

Deborah Taffa, a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma Indian) Nation, shares two personal essays. In Act 1, she tells the story of a Native woman who leaves her ancestral land and lands in Missouri, where a disappearing lake and the confusion of a binational marriage force her to examine the relationship between motherhood and community. In Act 2, she speaks of a daughter’s familial connections to the land. As she leaves her mother’s hospital bed, Taffa reflects on healing and prayer, her tribal myths, and the injustice of tourism in her homeland. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 32: Imaginative Biography: PLACES & NAMES

We showcase Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, and speak with the poet. His poems coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy greater than either fact or imagination. The people who inhabit these places—as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh—become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Ecija Siete

Whether caused by gentrification or war, displacement is an increasingly common aspect of the human experience. Growing up between three cultures and languages, Carmen Morawski’s personal essay, “Ecija Siete,” explores what constitutes home and belonging. […]

Being Latina/e/o/x Series

Episode 27: To the Border Crossers

On this episode, we showcase the following four poets out of dozens who took the stage during “Cruzando Fronteras”—an event on immigration and border crossing—to share their personal stories: Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, and Diana Castellanos. Then, Julián Esteban Torres López shares his keynote speech, which tackled the role of storytelling as a tool of empowerment that can disrupt the status quo, confront caricatures, change politics by first changing culture, and help shape new paradigms. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Eating Lice

My mom was an immigrant for eighteen months. I have been an immigrant for twenty-seven years. What made our migrations different? Mom was borderline illiterate, had six children and chose a husband poorly. I earned a Ph.D., had only one child, married a good man, divorced him, and married a better one. I teach at a university where I’m surrounded by intelligent people with inquisitive minds. I don’t know if education was the key, or who we married, or fate. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 26: ‘Where Are You From?’: The Wrong Passport

In this in-depth interview with Yaldaz Sadakova—creator of Foreignish.net and author of The Wrong Passport: Memoir Stories About Immigration—we unpack the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, its limitations, how it’s a micro-aggression, and a better question to ask; Yaldaz speaks to how she found new emotional and intellectual anchors after leaving her birth country and how she found her creative voice in a foreign land; her feelings of shame and distress about forgetting her mother tongue; becoming estranged from her Turkish Muslim heritage; we interrogate our hesitation to correct people when they mispronounce our names; she elaborates as to why she’s convinced borders are a form of injustice; and much more. […]

Being Latina/e/o/x Series

Episode 23: Traces of Home

Filmmaker Colette Ghunim on her first feature-length documentary: “Traces of Home tells the story of what happens when we as first-generation Americans go back to our roots to find out how where we come from shapes our identity. Through Traces of Home, I am telling my own personal story. I’m half Mexican and half Palestinian and both my parents were forced to leave their homes as children, and they both never returned since then. So through my film, we’re going back to Mexico and Palestine to try to find the original houses and to talk about why people are leaving and immigrating and why refugees are leaving as well, during a time when we need to hear it the most.” […]

Being Latina/e/o/x Series

Cruzando Fronteras / Crossing Borders

Why would anyone want to take on the treacherous task of crossing (multiple) borders? Poets Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, David Cruz, and Diana Castellanos share their personal stories on crossing borders and immigration during “Cruzando Fronteras,” an event that provided a safe space to talk about the seeking of refuge. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Flood

Remembering the pakhlava her Armenian medzmama used to make, a granddaughter ponders the miracle of this bit of ancestral wisdom dipped in syrup enduring her own family flood. Pluck, a certain string of nucleic acid bases and the myth of Noah’s Ark collide in this stitched-together story of survival. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Origin Story

“Origin Story” is a short memoir that spans from my birth in Iran to my present day living in Spain, focusing on key moments that shaped my understanding of my own status as an immigrant. My story is an evolution; from victimization and self-hatred, to fighting angrily and finally to acceptance. […]

Creative Nonfiction

The Space In Between

Food is tied to cultural identity, both of the land I left behind and of the land I found. I am outside the love of pumpkin pie, a common Canadian dessert, and I am outside the love of durian, a common Vietnamese delicacy. I exist in the space in between these two cultures as no amount of food, no matter its origins, may fulfill the ache deep within, the ache of otherness. […]

Being Latina/e/o/x Series

Snapshot: A Hyphenated Coexistence

My grandmother from Peru remarried at 81 to Don from Dayton, Ohio. She didn’t speak English and Don doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to find their own language. Together, they created a unique American love story, far from the life she left behind in Lima. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 8: The Elusive Burmese from Liminal Space

We take you into the world of a Burmese woman’s quest to piece together the fragments of her identity as Su Su Maung. We also learn about how that quest led her to found the Myanmar-based psychological consulting firm, Citta Consultancy. Citta helps empower the people of Myanmar with social and emotional intelligence so they can heal, transform, and grow to reach their fullest potential and contribute to the development of their country. […]

Salvator Rosa, "Three Figures Around a Globe," 1615–73.
Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 5: Transracial Adoption

We continue our episode 3 discussion on mixed-race families by digging into transracial adoption. Nicole Zelniker—whose book, Mixed, was the focus of that episode—joins me to interview Leah Whetten-Goldstein about her experience being adopted from China into a white, Jewish family in North Carolina. We discuss side-effects, critiques, misunderstandings, and assumptions surrounding transracial adoption, as well as the beauty of being in a mixed-race family. We get a glimpse into Whetten-Goldstein’s struggle to find an identity growing up in a predominantly white community as an adoptee, and she shares the wisdom she’s gathered along the way. […]

Sakai Hōitsu, "Blossoming Cherry Trees," pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper; ca. 1805. Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Gift of the Mary Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Being Mixed-Race Series

“I Guess I’m More Japanese Than You”

Nicole Zelniker’s book, Mixed, is a work of journalism about mixed-race families and their shifting identities. In this chapter from the book, Zelniker interviews Lynda Gomi, who is white, and Kazu Gomi, who is Japanese. They have lived in both the US and Japan and both believe that their cultures are a much bigger difference between them than the color of their skin. […]