Ten Questions, with Adebe DeRango-Adem

Ten Questions, with Adebe DeRango-Adem

Open Book Toronto

Adebe DeRango-Adem talks to Open Book about the anthology she co-edited with Andrea Thompson, Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out (Inanna Publications). The goal for this exciting anthology was not to nail down what identity means, but rather to open discussion and interrogate the diverse experiences of mixed-race identity and identification.
Open Book:
Tell us about the anthology Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out.

Adebe DeRango-Adem:
Other Tongues was born from a combination of necessity and a desire to see a new and refreshing literature that could be at the forefront of mixed-race discourse and women’s studies. We are very proud of the finished product and anticipate that it will make many waves in literary and academic communities across the continent!
What inspired you to put together this anthology?

The idea behind this anthology of writing by and about mixed-race women in North America was planted in our minds when we each came across Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women (1994), edited by Carol Camper. While we picked up this groundbreaking book at different times in our lives, the anthology had a lasting impact on both of us, an impact that would set the stage for the collaboration that became Other Tongues. We are thrilled to have had Carol Camper contribute to our anthology and continue to be inspired by the women who have responded so warmly to this book. What inspired me personally is, as many interracial women may share experientially, a feeling that my interracial history is a ripe place for critical analysis.
The subtitle, Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, suggests that identity is a significant theme for Other Tongues. What are some of the ways that your contributors approach issues of identity?
In seeking work for this book, we asked our prospective contributors to share their own individual experiences and tell their unique stories in relation to the way(s) in which they identified themselves. This process led to the excavation of perspectives of women from diverse backgrounds, ideologies, racial mixes, ages, social classes, sexual orientations and geographical locations. This collection has become a snapshot of the North American terrain of questions about race, mixed-race, racial identity, and how mixed-race women in North America identify in the 21st Century.

Yet, Andrea and I made it clear that our agenda was not to define what or how mixed-race identity means, but to open up dialogue. Talking about identity is as dangerous as it is reifying and necessary; as contestable as it is a question of commitment. Authenticity is as much about finding oneself as it is a concept shaped by social norms. In addressing these questions, we asked the women who submitted work to be considered to make a distinction between issues of race and those of cultural identity. In Other Tongues, there are multiple visions and understandings of authenticity/identity, as exemplified by the various sections we have. Where this book treats interracial identities uniquely is in our conscious effort to link creativity to identification; recognizing our potential for creativity as a source of value for writing who we are…

Read the entire interview here.

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