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5 International Readings on Racism and Stereotypes

Posted on June 17, 2021

More than a year after George Floyd's death at the hands of police, and during a time of heightened anti-Asian rhetoric and violence, racism continues to make headlines here in the US.

The short pieces of literature below are especially relevant for this moment, offering windows into racism, stereotyping, and questions of identity around the world—as well as global perspectives on coping with the emotions these issues raise.

Please read on for 2 stories, 2 poems, and 1 fantastic essay.

Stories from Russia & Egypt Shine a Light on Racism

Set during the Soviet era, Ludmila Ulitskaya's story "Pears from Gudauty" exposes both the far-reaching nature and the pettiness of racism, as a Jewish mother and daughter silently listen to a neighbor's litany of insults against dozens of nationalities. 

In graphic fiction from Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot titled "The Pharaohs of Egypt," two Bedouin tour guides take a novel (and slightly off-color) approach to dealing with their anger about tourists' racism.

Poems from Brazil and Mexico Ask "Who Defines Us?"

Ricardo Aleixo's prose poem "My Man" is at once confrontational and deeply vulnerable, providing a great starting point for talking about race and identity.

I am your black man. I’ll never be only your black man. I am my black man before I am yours. Your black man.

From Mexico, Fausto Guadarrama López's "Marías Mazahuas" addresses itself to indigenous women, sometimes called by the racist nickname "María" in Mexico's cities. Resources in the Context and Playlist tabs foreground the women's own voices.

An Essay Written in the U.S. Explains Why We Need to Keep Talking

In his essay "I Am Not Your Cholo" (the title is a play on a James Baldwin comment), Peruvian-Quechua journalist Marco Avilés writes:

[I]f we don’t complain to the privileged classes, they will go on imposing their points of view and their ways. They’ll eat us alive . . . That’s why I’m sharing my story here.

Read the rest of his essay and get links to resources to help with teaching in this blog post. And watch this space for more from Marco, who recently joined us live on Zoom.

The literature here is only a sampling of our resources for teaching about racism and stereotypes; click the links or visit the "Find" page to access more stories, poems, and teaching support.