Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ethnic photo exhibit

One of our European-American neighbors once attended a backyard cookout at the house of an Asian-American neighbor.  Seeing the steaks on the grill, he said,"I didn't know you people ate steak."  I never knew if the hosts took offense or even saw any reason to.

A few weeks ago, in our farmer's market, a European-American said to an Asian-American, "Are you from this state?"  She politely said that yes, she lived here in this county.

Many of us older citizens have grown up with images and habits that make us believe we know what a native-born American looks like.  I have wanted to assemble photo exhibit of portraits of authentic citizens of various countries.  I am very confident that I could get a photo of a man who wears a turban who is a citizen, if not a native, of Canada or Sweden.  I would like a nice portrait of a very dark skinned person who is a native of Germany or Denmark.  I have seen photos of Alexander McCall Smith and I have read that he was born in Rhodesia or Zambia.  Some other native of that country who did not move to Scotland would be a good addition to my exhibit.  

You see the idea: in this age of intermarriage, where people meet on campuses from all over the world, where they meet in airport and at conventions, where they meet online, what was once maybe a rather reliable correlation between facial structure/skin color/hair color and texture is now much scrambled.  Humans are built, I think, to very immediately try to read personality, character and background from others' faces.  However, that is increasingly difficult since experience, travel and education, both self and formal, are very powerful forces changing who and what we all are.

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