WHEN CULTURE TRUMPS PERSONALITY
But sometimes, I don't want to represent anyone.
Sometimes I just want to be myself, free of the burden of representation.
When first meeting new people, one can expect the standard questions: Where are you from? Do you like...? Have you tried...?
Apart from the getting to know you historically questions (facts, [dis]likes, etc.), there the getting to know you personally questions (thoughts, beliefs, convictions). Personal questions tend to require fuller thought, more reflection, and perhaps, more diplomacy, especially if the questioner asks you to speak on behalf of a community of people.
Currently, the United States public image is on the rocks. Police brutality, racism, political upheaval does not make sense to many living in the U.S., much less people who are watching it from afar. On a trip to Canada in May, I met a few people who somewhat jokingly commented on the U.S. presidential election and the prospect of U.S. American's immigrating to their Northern neighbor. What perturbed me was not the awkward political icebreaker but rather the throwback question, "Why is there so much racism and hatred in America?"
I shared an example a few weeks back about a student asking me about Islamophobia and war in the United States. Traveller and Blogger Valentine Sergon offers her own approach to navigating these difficult questions in "On Being Black, American, Proud".
Have you faced "representation fatigue"? How do you handle it?