Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged identity

The Magic Children: Racial Identity at the End of the Age of Race

“I used to think that I was Indian. The world was filled with magic children, living in America under the spell of race. But one day I learned that racial identity was just something to imagine about myself, and I devoted several years of careful thought on the matter.

The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation

The Offensive Internet is a collection of essays that focus on abuses made possible by the freedoms provided by the Internet. The essays deal with the issues of privacy, free speech, cyber-bullying, misogyny, and anonymity.

First Person Plural

Imagine having three different names and three different birth dates. Deann Borshay Liem asks the viewers of her documentary film First Person Plural to do just that as she tells the story of her adoption in 1966 from Korea by American parents living in California. The film traces her childhood in America and desperate drive to assimilate perfectly into American culture, which—to all who looked at her—would say she accomplished quite successfully.

Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur

Before I begin reviewing Ron Christie’s Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur I want to acknowledge my identity politics as they are crucial in my take on this book. First off I will never know what it’s like to be accused of acting white because I am white. Moreover, I am an anti-racist feminist who believes that institutional racism and structural inequalities exist and are held in place by those in power.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2010

The photo on this anthology’s cover, of two near identical women in rapturous embrace serves to convey the collection’s reoccurring theme: sex with one’s doppelganger. While the majority of stories in this collection do not adhere to this theme, two of the most unusual tales in this collection do. As one would assume, the stories within this collection often veer outside of the clichéd, cookie-cutter lesbian erotica setups.

Engendering Performance: Indian Women Performers in Search of an Identity

In its very fragmentariness, Engendering Performance: Indian Women Performers in Search of an Identity serves as an alternative to the traditional scholarly textbook.

Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974-2007

A student of Judy Chicago and Allan Kaprow, Suzanne Lacy’s collection of essays about her performance art pieces showcases not only Lacy’s development as a powerhouse feminist artist of her time but also the changing landscape of political art throughout the past four decades. Following a thoughtful introduction by her friend Moira Roth, Leaving Art traces Lacy’s self-criticism, the intended meaning behind her pieces, and reflections about the effectiveness of her work, at times in journal form (e.g., “While I was working on this piece I figured out why it has been so hard for me to consider myself grown up”) and at times as she reflects about the meaning of art more broadly. As an introduction to Lacy’s work, or as an in-depth look at Lacy’s artistic process, the book will appeal both to those newly familiar with Lacy or with those who have long followed her career.

Tales of Tokyo

Full disclosure: Alan Rose and I are friends, and over the years I have enjoyed every bit of his writing. His first novel, the plot-driven ghost story The Legacy of Emily Hargraves, may differ in tone and content from Tales of Tokyo, but the underlying themes aren’t so different.

The Selves

Sonja Ahlers’ The Selves is a visual essay which combines collage, poetry, watercolor, calligraphy, prose and fabric. The result is a multi-layered and textured work that reveals something new every time you leaf through it. Although pastiche and mixed media immediately come to mind to describe Ahlers’ work, it may also be considered a new genre or a new way of looking at our lives as women in relation to mass media.

Also Known As

Being a writer is often a difficult endeavor. It’s not the desire nor the passion that is constraining but more often the discipline, the dedication. Sometimes what writers struggle most with is the publicity of the written word. Once something is printed, with your name next to it–there is no going back. It may be one of the reasons so many authors choose to publish under a pseudonym, a fictional name created to hide the identity of the author in order to create a truly private space where creativity can thrive. Elizabeth Robinson has taken this practice one step further.

Love, Race, and Liberation: ‘Til the White Day is Done

The subtitle of of JLove Calderón and Marcella Runell’s curriculum, Love, Race, and Liberation, comes from the poem “Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes. To fling my arms wide In some place of the sun, To whirl and to dance Till the white day is done. Love, Race, and Liberation is a multimedia project

I Am Love

The story is simple—and familiar, at least to feminists: years after being plucked from her home, stripped of her individuality, and thrust into a loveless marriage, a woman is shocked back to life and inspired to flee. But from A Doll's House to Titanic, it's not so much about the story itself as it is about how it's told.


Sometimes you stumble upon really small, obscure films that leave such an impact that you just want as many people to see it as possible. Desigirls by Ishita Srivastava is one such film. Filmed as a graduate thesis project at New York University, this twenty-minute documentary explores a refreshingly new topic—the South Asian lesbian community in New York City. I had the opportunity to watch the film and speak to the director afterward.

I Just Lately Started Buying Wings: Missives From The Other Side of Silence

I Just Lately Started Buying Wings is a collection of memories and letters, speaking out from places of silence. Throughout the text, Kim Dana Kupperman conveys an enduring need to bring chosen tragedies to light and does so vigorously.

Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity

Pavan K. Varma’s most recent book, Becoming Indian, argues that cultural freedom has eluded formerly colonized nations, specifically India. He sees a need for a cultural revolution in India. Although it reads at times like an extended opinion piece, Varma makes convincing arguments highlighting the importance of reclaiming language, architecture, and art in a way that empowers indigenous knowledge rather than oppressing it.

Masculine Identity in the Fiction of the Arab East Since 1967

It is widely acknowledged that limited gender constructs and highly patriarchal social structures, the kind that are prevalent in the Middle East, are often harmful to women.

Lahore with Love: Growing Up with Girlfriends, Pakistani-Style

A poet’s power lies not only in her well-crafted images but in the rhythm of her recitation. As I read Lahore With Love, the memoir of Fawzia Afzal-Khan, I longed to hear her read the volume aloud.

Creating Ourselves: African Americans and Hispanic Americans in Popular Culture and Religious Expression

The topic of cross-cultural communication has fascinated me for a number of years, partly because of my own experiences in Latin America, and partly from observing the interaction between the Latino/a and African American communities.

The Opposite of Me

Lindsey Rose’s life is perfectly in order when The Opposite of Me opens: She’s hours away from being made a vice-president at a large advertising firm, she weeks away from owning a piece real estate in a tony New York neighborhood, she’s got a closet full of designer clothes, and, oh, she’s only twenty-nine years old.

Off and Running

Considering the number of children in need of adoption—and the number of children who are actually adopted each year—it's surprising there aren't more adoption stories being told. Aside from The Locator, we've had especially limited access to stories about adopted children reaching out to their birth parents. The delicate, vulnerable position of someone sending a letter out into the world, waiting and hoping to hear back about where they come from, is still a bit of a mystery, and more than worthwhile.

Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana: Politics, Identity and Faith in New Immigrant Communities

Religion at the Corner of Bliss and Nirvana, a collection of essays on the religious activities and identity formation of immigrants to the United States, is the fruit of a four-year study conducted by researchers from the Religion and Immigration Project (TRIP) at the University of San Francisco.

Off and Running

Off and Running is a very non-traditional coming-of-age story told in a way that deftly conveys one young woman’s unique situation as well as more universal themes. Filmmaker Nicole Opper was afforded intimate access to her subjects, which enabled her to invite the viewer to take a sensitive and warm perspective as the events unfold. The film’s central subject, a high school track star named Avery Klein-Cloud, is honest and likable.

An Angle of Vision: Women Writers on Their Poor and Working-Class Roots

In An Angle of Vision, we are presented with a series of extraordinarily well-written essays centered upon one of the most taboo topics in U.S. culture: class. More specifically, we are presented with first-person, female-centered examinations of two groups who are steadily disappearing from both the public discourse and the popular culture of the United States: the poor and working class.

Epistemic Injustice: Power & The Ethics of Knowing

In Epistemic Injustice, Miranda Fricker identifies and explores the role of identity prejudice (based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) in producing both systematic and incidental epistemic injustices or injustices against people in their capacities as speakers, informants, or participants in the community’s sharing of knowledge.

How Perfect Is That

How Perfect Is That is a story of becoming. When Blythe Young begins her tale, her world is in the process of crashing down around her. Though she married into a wealthy Texas family, her mother-in-law was one step ahead of her and insisted upon a prenuptial agreement—an agreement which carefully stipulated no provisions for Blythe in case of a divorce.

Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

_We are not [wo] men for whom it is a question of either-or. For us, the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but go beyond it.


Mudbound, the first novel by Hillary Jordan, is all about tension. Race, family, marriage, class, identity are all buzzing, pressing in the narrative, and all of them feed into the greatest tension of all: the classic survival story of man versus nature. The first few pages describe two brothers scrambling to dig a makeshift grave ahead of an impending storm. This scene sets the tone and becomes, in many ways, a vivid metaphor for the entire narrative.

Between Here and April

Deborah Copaken Kogan’s novel Between Here and April begins with Elizabeth Burns, a modern New York journalist and mother of two young girls, recalling her first-grade friend April Cassidy’s sudden disappearance.

Ten Things I Hate About Me

I was excited when the book Does My Head Look Big in This? came out a few years ago. In that book, author Randa Abdel-Fattah tells the story of Amal, a young Australian Muslim woman who decides to wear hijab and navigates the challenges of expressing her identity as an Australian Muslim.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

What molding and stretching is required of a woman who chooses to better the quality of life of others over her own? Perhaps this type of self-sacrifice cannot be fathomed from the outside in. To be the devoted wife, the doting mother, the gracious hostess, the caring friend—where and when does she find the time to find herself? Within in her sharply defined world, Pippa Lee is everything to everyone who matters to her—to Herb, her husband thirty years her senior and a prominent publisher; to her grown children, twins; and to a small circle of friends, New York writers and artists.