Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity

By Sharon R. Mazzarella; Norma Odom Pecora | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Out of the Indian Diaspora: Mass Media, Myths of Femininity, and the Negotiation of Adolescence between Two Cultures

Meenakshi Gigi Durham

I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. But this is a destructive and fragmenting way to live. My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing for power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restrictions of externally imposed definition.

-- Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex

Growing up in two cultures, or coming from one to live in another, is like moving in two directions at once, or like being in two places at once. For those who haven't experienced it, it seems a simple matter of picking and choosing the best of both worlds, but for some of us, it's more painful than that.

-- Voice over, Indu Krishnan, director of the film Knowing Her Place

I realized recently that when people question me about my origins (as they often do), I say I am from the mountains -- as though I sprang fullfledged from a crevice of earth and rock rather than having been born in the usual way. Perhaps this mental block is a result of having lived all my life in a miasmic region between countries, between languages, between identities, and between media cultures; somewhere outside of the defining racial lines of black and white, which has led me on a lifelong quest to be, in some quintessential way, self-defining.

In the quotation above, it is clear that Audre Lorde knows all about externally imposed definitions: that ontology can be everything in the

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