August 29, 2018
Detail of Isiah Lopaz photograph entitled Him, Noir

A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how vast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other. –James Baldwin

Children are not born knowing the nature of power or the cruelty with which we often treat one another, but in the world we have made a great many children come much too early to that knowledge. Traumatized children, many of them infants and toddlers, may be the most public faces of othering in the US today. A furor has erupted here over the morality, ethics, and political and social consequences of the federal government's “family separation” policy, which saw more than 2,300 immigrant children taken from their caregivers at the US-Mexico border in just under two months.

Tragically, these immigrant children have plenty of company in their innocence and suffering. Around the world, children feature prominently among our most vulnerable populations, whether Rohingya and Syrian refugees, people with disabilities in Afghanistan or Sudan, those living in extreme poverty, or any of the other groups we could name.

Cover image of Othering & Belonging journal which shows a close up of the back of heads of two Black individuals hugging each otherChildren also have a range of roles in our new issue of Othering & Belonging—as wards in need of protection, yes, but also as witnesses, as accountability partners, as vehicles of empathetic imagination, and as inheritors and re-shapers of the institutions and communities we construct now. 

We are pleased to bring you the latest edition of our multimedia journal which we think, as our Editors' Introduction notes, provides candid and necessary conversations and scholarship for illuminating and revealing structural marginalization and inclusion, but is also a vital forum for mutual support, encouragement and action.

We hope this issue reveals Othering & Belonging to be on solid footing in terms of tone, identity, and the extraordinary range of content that such a forum can showcase in pursuit of our vision. The exigency of othering crises enveloping the globe right now must be met by resistance, yes, but also by education, understanding, compassion, love, and belonging. We believe our world depends upon it.

Yours in Belonging,
Andrew Grant-Thomas
Rachelle Galloway-Popotas
Stephen Menendian
Editors, Othering & Belonging Journal

PS - This multimedia journal is part of a body of work which also includes our Othering & Belonging conferences—the next one will be held April 8–10, 2019 in Oakland, California. Registration is opening in a few weeks and will be announced through this e-newsletter and on the conference website. We hope to see you in Oakland in the spring.

Explore Issue Three

In Object to Subject: Three scholars on race, othering, and bearing witness, scholar-activists Erin Kerrison, Wizdom Powell, and Abigail Sewell cast light on the mechanisms and consequences of othering for people of color, and especially for the health of Black boys and men. Their conversation with us concludes with reflections on what the seeds of greater belonging for racially marginalized peoples might be, and with powerful revelations about how these women manage to keep working to meet the very daunting challenges they describe.
Renowned scholar of religious pluralism Karen Barkey examines one tangible form accommodation with difference has taken. In a world fragmented by racial, ethnic, social, and geopolitical conflict, Barkey’s “Contemporary Cases of Shared Sacred Sites: Forms of Othering or Belonging?” shines a spotlight on shared religious sites as a partial antidote to the hopelessness many of us feel. Barkey does not romanticize the work these sites do; the belongingness they nurture, she observes, is temporary and less than “full.” Nevertheless, in areas marked by interethnic struggles, their very presence “reflects the possibilities of human coexistence across boundaries.”
In “Removing Barriers and Building Bridges: How Play Cultivates Integration and Belonging in Refugee Children," Freya White blends her knowledge of the empirical research literature on child development with her experience in a refugee camp in northern France to argue for the importance of play as a hedge against trauma for refugee children. While the circumstances of immigrant children forcibly placed in US “tender age shelters” differ in various ways from those of the largely Kurdish refugee children White worked with in France, readers may find the comparison telling. And uncomfortable.
Poet Nina Miriam bears witness by recasting her white interlocutor as the racial "other." Her themes include the perils of racial isolation, microaggressions, racial over and under-representation, and their consequences for whites as well as for people of color. Above all, “What if we othered your child and you?” is a plea for empathy.
Sonali Sangeeta Balajee brings us “An Evolutionary Road Map for Belonging and Co-Liberation” wherein she also leans into the sacred: the sacred connection of spirit and belonging. Her pioneering attempt with this essay is “to map out an emerging DNA of what belonging would look like when tied to health, spirituality, resilience, and well-being," supported by original artwork by her artist collaborator Samuel Paden. 
The Palestinian village of Battir was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, the same year that photographer and artist Sama Alshaibi arrived there. Her observations, insights, research, and photography come together in “Part and parcel: cultivating survival in the village of Battir", where in Alshaibi’s account, Battir serves as a powerful symbol of Palestinian resistance to the destruction of a people and a culture. 
In Romain Vakilitabar’s immersive film, Strangers, along with his accompanying essay about it, “How Technology Could Bridge the Gap of Compassion," the three women who are featured—a Black Lives Matter activist in St. Louis, a farmer in rural Oklahoma, and an Iraqi refugee—seemingly share little but their feelings and experiences of alienation and their concerns as mothers. All three women understand their struggle as a service to their children, their grandchildren, and future generations.
Image detail of Isaiah Lopaz photo Him Noir showing a Black man looking at camera wearing tsihirt that says "And when do you go back?"
Artwork here by Isaiah Lopaz, cover art by Shikeith. See all our contributors to Issue Three here.
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