Issue #19, 2002

Diversity Dialogues

In this issue, celebrated authors like John Edgar Wideman, Francine Prose, Andrei Codrescu, Terry Tempest Williams and Richard Rodriguez write essays about diversity that defy easy labels. To seek out new voices, Creative Nonfiction teamed up with JPMorganChase to offer a $10,000 prize for narratives about the challenges faced by outsiders in a world where "normal," "regular" and "accepted" are the watchwords and all others are marginalized.

The collection includes an essay by Floyd Skloot, who, having suffered from a virus that attacked and damaged his brain 12 years ago, ponders his disabled status. Skloot was the recipient of the $10,000 Walter V. Shipley Award, named for the retired chairman of the Chase board. Long noted for its diversity initiatives and cited as a model for other financial institutions, Chase began concentrating on diversity issues under the guidance of Shipley, who sought to create a work environment that embraced a mix of race, cultures, ages, religions, and orientations.

Runners up for the Shipley competition include Eliot Sloan, a schoolteacher who learned her father was homosexual when she was 11. In "The Green Room," she works to assimilate the impact of his gay identity on both their lives. Chavawn Kelley, a white Easterner thrust into the incongruous setting of a Native American classroom, attempts to teach from an outdated lesson plan that uses passages about silverware etiquette to teach writing in "Red, White and Silver." In "Confessions of a Black Buddhist Nun," Faith Adiele, the bi-racial child of a single white mother, turns her back on a carefully constructed, "politically correct" American upbringing to become a Buddhist nun in Thailand and finds her Buddhism leading to reconciliation with her past.

Table of Contents

Valuing Differences William B. Harrison, Jr.
A Moment of Clarity Lee Gutkind
FROM THE EDITOR Lee Gutkind ... read more
Red, White and Silver Chavawn Kelley
The Green Room Eliot Sloan
Aristotle's Ghost Kurt Schwenk
Going Native Francine Prose
Looking at Emmett Till John Edgar Wideman
Snapshots in Black and White Shara McCallum
Joe Stopped By Andrei Codrescu
A Measure of Acceptance Floyd Skloot
Gone in Translation Kate Small
Mixed-Blood Stew Jewell Parker Rhodes
Leaving Babylon Judyth Har-Even
Lessons in Killing for the Black Buddhist Nun Faith Adiele
The Brown Study Richard Rodriguez
Blindsided Julia Copeland
Iguana Don Patricia Frisella
Q&A on Chavawn Kelley ... read more
Why I Love The Dump: Further reading ... read more

Contributors

Faith Adiele

Faith Adiele won the Millennium Award from Creative Nonfiction for this essay. She is the daughter of a Scandinavian-American mother and... read more

Andrei Codrescu

Andrei Codrescu immigrated to the United States in 1966 from Romania, where he was born in 1946. He is a poet, novelist, essayist,... read more

Julia Copeland

Julia Copeland's stories and essays have appeared in various publications, among them News From the Republic of Letters, the Louisville... read more

Judyth Har-Even

Judyth Har-Even has written personal essays for the Jerusalem Post, Israel's largest English-language daily, since 1984. Her essays and... read more

Patricia Frisella

Patricia L. Frisella is an award-winning poet living in rural New Hampshire. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1972 with a... read more

Chavawn Kelley

With this essay, Chavawn Kelley completes a trilogy set in Wyoming's Wind River country. The first of the three, Why I Love the Dump,... read more

Shara McCallum

Born in Jamaica, Shara McCallum immigrated to the United States at the age of 9. Her book of poetry, "The Water Between Us," won the Agnes... read more

Francine Prose

Francine Prose's highly acclaimed works of fiction include Blue Angel, Bigfoot Dreams, Household Saints, Hunters and Gatherers,... read more

Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of three novels, Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, and Douglass' Women, and of The African American Guide... read more

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez is the author of Hunger of Memory, Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father and Brown: The Last Discovery... read more

Kurt Schwenk

Kurt Schwenk is an evolutionary biologist and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut. He has a... read more

Floyd Skloot

Floyd Skloot's memoir, In the Shadow of Memory (Nebraska, 2003), won the PEN Center USA Literary Award. The sequel, A World of Light, will... read more

Eliot Sloan

Eliot Sloan completed a MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona in 2001 and will complete a MFA in English literature this... read more

Kate Small

Kate Small's work has appeared in Nimrod, Boston Review, Madison Review, Chelsea, Other Voices and "Best New American Voices," a Harcourt... read more

John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman's life is as dramatic as any of his widely acclaimed Faulknerian novels. Born in Pittsburgh to a working-class family,... read more

Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams, author, naturalist and environmental activist, is perhaps best known for writing "Refuge: An Unnatural History of... read more