Talking About Identity

Talking About Identity

Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Language

Edited by Carl James and Adrienne Shadd


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“Where are you from?” “What is your nationality?” “I didn’t know you were…” “I’m not racist, but…” “It’s just a joke.” “What does a white person know about racism?” “Some of my best friends are…”

James and Shadd’s enormously popular Talking About Difference (BTL, 1994) has been thoroughly revised and expanded and makes a fine introduction to dozens of key issues involving all of us in Canadian society. Some of these issues include ethnic, racial, class and social identity. All the authors provide analysis as well as personal reflections. The book also shows the rich experiences and many ways of growing up, immigrating to, and living in Canada.

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The collection provides a useful and complex opening to issues of identity and differences through illustration of the varied ways in which the individual author’s identities get played out through daily interaction.

– Labour/Le Travail

Talking about Identity is a comprehensive selection of personal reflections on social experience. It is grounded, provocative, enlightening, useful and, above all, compelling to read.

– Richard Fung, coordinator at Centre for Media and Culture in Education, OISE, University of Toronto


Introduction Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Language
Carl E. James
Part I Who's Canadian, Anyway?
Chapter 1 "Where Are You Really From?" Notes of an "Immigrant" from North Buxton, Ontario
Adrienne Shadd
Chapter 2 What's Your Background?
Kai James
Chapter 3 Jewish, Canadian, or Québecois? Notes on a Diasporic Identity
Susan Judith Ship
Chapter 4 Québécitude An Ambiguous Identity
Guy Bédard
Chapter 5 I Want to Call Myself Canadian
Katalin Szepesi
Chapter 6 Hello ... My Name Is ...
Katalin Szepesi
Part II Growing up "Different"
Chapter 7 My Mother Used to Dance
Valerie Bedassigae Pheasant
Chapter 8 Zebra: Growing up Black and White in Canada
Lawrence Hill
Chapter 9 "I Am Canadian but My Father Is German"
Lori Weber
Chapter 10 Present Company Excluded, of Course ... Revisited
Stan Isoki
Part III Roots of Identity, Routes to Knowing
Chapter 11 Revealing Moments: The Voice of One Who Lives with Labels
Did Khayatt
Chapter 12 German-Japanese-American-Canadian: Chapters in a Twentieth-Century Life
Gottfried Passche
Chapter 13 It Was Always There? Looking for Identity in All the (Not) So Obvious Places
howard ramos
Chapter 14 The Elusive and Illusionary: Identifying of Me, Not by Me
Camille Hernández-Ramdwar
Chapter 15 Is It Japanese Artist or Artist Who Is Japanese?
Lillian Blakey
Chapter 16 Corridors: Language as Trap and Meeting Ground
Angèle Denis
Chapter 17 A Black Canadian Woman of Diverse Ethnic Origins
Marlene Jennings
Part IV Race, Privilege, and Challenges
Chapter 18 "I've Never Had a Black Teacher Before"
Carl E. James
Chapter 19 White Teacher, Black Literature
Leslie Sanders
Chapter 20 Whiteness in White Academia
Luis M. Aguiar
Chapter 21 Learning from Discomfort: A Letter to My Daughters
Barb Thomas
Chapter 22 The "Race Consciousness" of a South Asian (Canadian, of Course) Female Academic
Arun Mukherjee
Chapter 23 There's a White Man in My Bed: Scenes from an Interracial Marriage
Pui Yee Beryl Tsang
Part V Confronting Stereotypes and Racism
Chapter 24 "I Didn't Know You Were Jewish" ... and Other Things Not to Say When You Find Out
Ivan Kalmar
Chapter 25 But You Are Different: In Conversation with a Friend
Sabra Desai
Chapter 26 Ties That Bind and Ties That Blind: Race and Class Intersections in the Classroom
Paul Orlowski
Chapter 27 "We Are All the Same — Just Because You Are Black Doesn't Matter"
Gifty Serbeh-Dunn and Wayne Dunn
Chapter 28 Can Blacks Be Racist? Reflections on Being "Too Black and African"
Henry Martey Codjoe
Chapter 29 "Why Are Black People So Angry?" The Question of Black Rage
Adrienne Shadd
Interrogations by Stephen Patel