Brief synopsis of the book from the author's point of view:
An Other's Mind brings to light the many consequences of our human struggle to deal with differences amongst us and our most obvious differences pertaining to our race and culture. The content of the book takes the reader on a scholarly journey via the context of true stories that expose the many ills of a society ruled by rationalizations that violate our human rights and dignity, leaving those viewed as Others to struggle against conditions that limits crucial choices attached to economics. In the narration of a personal journey and that of many students who have expressed similar hardships, a necessity for an omnipresent consciousness, passion and action is revealed. In examining the book's themes, a movement for change is ignited simply by exposing that a partnership between scholarship and street smarts is essential in alerting the oppressors that behind all their "logic," we are aware of their hidden agendas.
What inspired the title of the book?
From the beginning pages I acknowledge the mindset that we, the Others, must decode a "power language," whose clever application upon Others distorts the truth. Without that, we're exposed instantly and consistently to the mindset that the Other is from an inferior race. In fact, that mentality is embedded in almost every aspect of our societal functioning and is supported by research which often does not represent the make-up of our society and arrives at conclusions that compromise our development and survival. We cannot simply accept what we are fed. What I learned through community organizing and involvement in the civil rights movement is that this nation's embracement of capitalism automatically requires the Other and their victimization. An Other's Mind acknowledges that our marginalization and exploitation has in fact revealed to us the many injustices and hidden agendas imposed on us by those with money and power that attempt to keep us trapped and gated. The concept of Otherism is something we, those who have been oppressed and are often thought to be "not-knowing," gullible, a "have-not," understand very well because of our experiences and street smarts.
How do the themes in the book impact how you market it and the sales of your book?
Because of the content (starting on page one), I know and have already observed through the editing process, that the more power (as in money and status) a person has, the less likely that person will be to admit to reading the book or making the actual purchase. Just the purchase makes a statement that threatens to alter the status quo and instigates a self-analysis that people may not be ready or desire to confront. When we discuss or become aware about the shortfalls that exist related to race, education, history, economics and justice, there is no avoiding an introspective evaluation of how we are also part of the problem and can be part of the solution; the risk is often times the silencing and neglectful factor that keeps us from freedom for all.
What inspired the writing of An Other's Mind?
Throughout my whole life I had witnessed and experienced too much injustice. For too long my experiences and that of Others like me have been silenced and hidden. I had been socially trapped into choosing inadequate role models simply based on income successes rather than character.
As an Other I also observed that mistakes we made almost immediately condemned us and led us to blame ourselves above all other factors and conditions. Mistakes are an important ingredient of a journey that takes you where you want to go. Any way in which a person's "right to fail" is hindered is a privilege of the oppressor that denies the person progress, development and empowerment.
How is the book a reflection of your life?
My life portrays a historical relevance that motivated a process of self-discovery where I first had to understand how I eventually slotted the civil rights movement into my own life. Once I understood better my relationship with history it propelled me to encourage Others to do the same, for many reasons and purposes, but surely for helping solve some problems for the larger universe of cultures at a time that has so many of our tomorrows at risk.
The personal stories and incidents mentioned in the book put me in a state of vulnerability. The vulnerabilities, especially in classroom settings, helped Others pursue a new base knowledge and curiosity that eventually helped them open up to more satisfying possibilities.
Professionally, my experiences in not-for-profit settings have given me a basis on which to seek further scholarship, expose institutionalized racism where it existed, and confront the dangers of a system in which policy as well as the absence of policy affect those left without many choices for survival.
What are the major themes presented in the book?
- A liberal arts education allows us to find the genesis of our personal journeys and where it has taken us. It develops our consciousness; it validates its importance in our everyday life and the conditions that deter us or take us away from a moral consciousness. It develops our wisdom which is paramount to the preservation of our ethics for making decisions in any context of our lives; this needed wisdom defends and protects us while uniting our personal and professional paths.
- In our struggle to defend our basic needs and our being viewed as an Other, the greatest discovery for me was that race mattered. When left out of the social equation it translates to negativity, and does not allow for progress to occur. In denying ourselves a positive view of race and how our differences enhance us as a society, our basic need of human dignity is perpetually compromised and leads to greater social issues.
- To understand present social conditions for all groups of people, we must grasp where we came from, in the metaphorical sense, and how we got to where we are. All policies have a historical relevance, that point of reference must be identified to understand the present, rewrite or create new policy in order to formulate lasting changes for all people.
- Because we are constantly tempted to strive into an atmosphere of greed or the "wanting of more" it becomes a responsibility of education to enlighten us to the consequences of those "wants." Educated and trained community organizers, having been taught and mentored to be agents of change play an integral role in preventing the rise of a new power group to become oppressive.
How is An Other's Mind different?
Beyond the scholarship and material presented for the disciplines that deal with social issues and human rights, the book is also a channel in which I hope to continue mentoring and inspiring Others to join the movement toward change. In exposing the realities so many of us have faced, the importance of consciousness is emphasized and self-empowerment comes into the equation and process of gaining more knowledge. This is not simply an autobiography or memoir of the many people I have worked and interacted with, nor is it only about social and economic justice principles but a complement of both—each affecting the other—to reveal and motivate an introspective analysis of where one stands on issues affecting us all.
What do you hope readers will learn or take away from reading An Other's Mind?
That we must fight for our human rights as we fight for our "basic needs;" what affects one of us, affects us all. There is a great deal of creativity in the struggle to survive that is just as valuable as the scholarship attained by an individual; we all have a role to play in the movement that protects our human dignity.
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