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FISSURE: A Life Between Cultures


Diné alphabet card

I have a new memoir in the making, a collection of related essays written over a twenty-year period. These essays deal in various ways with my experience growing up in the fissure between Red and White worlds and with how that experience has played out in adulthood. Several of them have been published, and one was recognized as notable in Best American Essays 2014. 


Many future blog posts will include excerpts from the published essays, as for example, Monday's post, "Integration Controversy." You can also expect related short essays and stories that will be available only on the blog. I hope these posts will whet your appetite for the book and inspire you to get your friends interested in subscribing at https://www.annaredsand.com/newsletter.htm In other words, this is some advance promotion for the memoir. I'm hoping to get an idea of interest in the memoir, too, from your responses; in other words, you're very important people––VIPs. 


What follows today is what constitutes an Author's Note as front material in the book. It's intended to give you, the reader, a heads up about my choice of words and how I use language, primarily Diné bizaad (the Navajo language), in the book: 



Author's Note

(From the Book)



Language matters. It especially matters when we talk about contact among cultures and the interstices between them. It matters whether I choose to write "reservation" or "Navajo Nation" or "Dinétah." These three expressions delineate the same locale, yet, on a deeper level, each means something different, and the differences are significant. The language we use to talk about the legacy of colonization––a legacy that virtually no one on Earth escapes––is important. This inheritance carries particular weight in the posts you'll be reading. Accordingly, I have privileged certain words over others, hoping to bring about a small measure of healing by contributing, to a miniscule degree, to the monumental task of decolonization. Thus:



• Diné (Navajos' name for themselves) over Navajo, which comes from the Spanish conquistadors;


• Diné bizaad over Diné language or Navajo language or simply Navajo;


• Dinétah, Navajo Country, Navajo Nation, and the Nation over reservation;


• Indigenous or Native over Indian or Native American;


• Bilagáana (the Diné name for Whites) in addition to White;


• When Black, White, or Brown refer to individuals or a group identified by one of these colors, the words are capitalized as proper nouns;


• Words in Diné bizaad are not italicized, except for emphasis or when referred to as words themselves; this is in a recognition of their legitimacy equal to the legitimacy of English.





• Would you find an Author's Note like this of value in the front material of a book?




Here's a short teaser for my next post on allyship:



The conversation took place in the home of a woman I was meeting for the first time and included two of her close friends. The occasion was a small, intimate reading from my memoir, To Drink from the Silver Cup: From Faith, Through Exile, and Beyond. As the subtitle suggests, this book is a story about a spiritual journey. What it doesn't say is that the exile and what happens afterwards took place because I was a queer woman. The home where we met was in the Michigan city of my birth, which is the center of the very evangelical, once mainly ethnically Dutch-American church I was raised in. This church, fifty years after my exile began, is still in deep, one could even say extreme, conflict over LGBTQ inclusion. All three women had close ties with that church. Our host was Black, the other two women were White, and all three presented as heterosexual. These facts are important because they provide context to the discussion that ensued.


One of the women asked the action question, "What can we do to make it safe for LGBTQ people to participate in our church?"


To be continued on Friday. Please stay tuned.




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