When We First Become Other

White is not the default. Our characters should reflect the true diversity in the world. This makes our writing so much richer and more real.

Sumiko Saulson

When We First Become Other

By Sumiko Saulson

Winner, Fall 2017 Berkeley City College / BCC Voice Essay Contest, “Reframing the Other”

It is the very nature of human self-awareness which creates Othering. From birth, we see the world from a personal vantage point. We first take in sounds, smells and images of our personal tribe: parents, siblings, neighbors and grandparents. They are the village to which Self belongs. This is true even for those of us mainstream America views as Other. So how does one first become Othered? This occurs through contact with multicultural groups, and with mainstream media. Once we view ourselves through the lens of mass media, it becomes possible to reframe Self as Other.

In late 1970s, watching a television show called The Jeffersons. I noticed their neighbors, the Willises, an interracial couple, had one white actor and one black actress playing their mixed race…

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