Faridah Pawan

#6: Faridah

Faridah Pawan recorded a conversation with the Stories team during the African American Read-In at IU Bloomington's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on February 5, 2018.

Description of the video:

You know, if we're not careful, in terms of this generation, we see them as being complacent and not involved, but when you come to read-in events like this, you hear them sharing their hearts, their selves. You know, and I think for me, it showcases the power of literacy, enables you to discern the complexities of the world and in so many ways situate yourself in this world, and I think when this happens, I remember what I think Dr. Jerrie Cobb Scott, the founder of this event, said. It is important to see ourselves in books. And for me, when I come to this event, I see myself in others. My ethnicity is best described as a Malayo-Polynesian. I mean, what this means is that my folks and I are- We are a culmination of many combinations of people with multiple origins. I say identity, who I am, is a matrix of things, social, political, cultural, physical, educational, all of these things, the interplay of factors in the context that we're in. It is not just neither-nor, are you this, are you that. We're a matrix of things. And so one of the questions that I have been asked by my own children is that, doesn't that make it difficult for you? You know, doesn't that- Doesn't that make our life difficult, you know? And yes and no. You know, this chameleon-like activity for people to criticize us, right, it leaves you feeling of never quite belonging and always feeling that fragments of yourself, you know, are floating here and there. And there's no solid, clean, defining place for you in the world. In contrast, I think Nicola Rollock, from the UK, said that being in this space gives us this perspective advantage. We see see things from a wider lens, because we live in this wider lens. You know, I'm a second language learner of English and a non-native speaker of English, but I'm teaching and researching people who teach English. I sense the imposter syndrome, that people are judging me that I'm not quite up to par because I'm a non-native speaker of English in this profession. However, when I look at myself, I celebrate that I do have expertise, and so I sense these two. Imposter syndrome. Judgment. I sense myself also clinging to the realization I have- I have researched this. I have this expertise. You know, it's this, this multiple, double, triple consciousness that I have about who I am and, you know. My older son, he came home one time when he was nine years of age and he was in the fourth grade. The first question when he came home, not lunch- "I'm hungry, I want a snack." He said, "What color are we?" Well, you know, he was in the playground. Some kid told him he can't play with them because he was brown. As any mother would say, you know, I said, "Well, I'm glad you are who you are. I'm glad you have color in the first place." That was my response because it is- It makes it evident to everyone the rich heritage that you carry with you, the cultural heritage, the wisdoms you have brought with you. So that's why the read-in is particularly special for myself and for my son, because we hear these things. We hear all these articulated in so many different ways. And we hear ourselves.