Understanding the “Other” in Us

by Cindy Rivka Marshall, STF 2017 Workshop Presenter


“Wait behind the line. One at a time,” the security guard cautioned.

My teenage daughter and I were approaching the check in for airport security. She was still a minor and did not yet have a driver’s license, so she was by my side as I stepped up to show my ID.

“We are together. This is my daughter,” I stated loudly, my shoulders tense and my chin raised.

The guard’s eyes darted from me to my daughter, his face shifting from annoyance to confusion (“You don’t look like each other!”) to realizing his false assumption.

“Oh, you’re together?” he shrugged. “Go ahead.”

Being a transracial family, we are accustomed to these moments of noticing other peoples’ puzzled reactions to us.  Sometimes our bond as a family is questioned or invisible to others, and sometimes there are subtle, fleeting glances that reflect back to us the fact that we are different. I acknowledge that being white may make it safer for me than for my daughter, who is Asian American, to speak up and correct a mistaken assumption.

Everyone is affected by assumptions and stereotypes based on race, class, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation – exponentially more so for those in marginalized or targeted groups. The recent political landscape of divisiveness has led many people to see the importance of listening to each other across our differences.

No matter our appearance or what identity groups each of us belongs to, I believe that empathy can be cultivated through reflecting on experiences of times we felt “other” or not seen for who we are.

I will be offering a workshop at Sharing the Fire called “Understanding the ‘Other’ in Us.” Participants will come away with the beginnings of a personal story, telling of a time when they experienced “otherness.”  It is my hope that this workshop will be helpful both on a personal level, and serve as a model for those who aspire to facilitating groups to build understanding across differences. Hope to see you there on Sunday morning!

Want to learn more?  Sign up Cindy’s STF workshop

Understanding the “Other” in Us

from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm on Sunday, March 26th. Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.

Have personal experience of your own to share on this topic? Leave a comment.

Cindy Rivka Marshall at STF 2017Cindy Rivka Marshall aims to “reach, teach and change with stories.” She consults, coaches and trains in the use of story modalities, addressing the needs of congregations, schools, organizations and individuals. An award-winning storyteller, Cindy has been an invited presenter across the US and in the UK. www.cindymarshall.com

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