March Featured Title: untold: defining moments of the uprooted
This month, our featured title is untold: defining moments of the uprooted edited by Gabrielle Deonath and Kamini Ramdeen!
This remarkable collection of real stories explores the South Asian experience in the U.S., U.K., and Canada through the lens of identity, being, and relationships. Thirty-two emerging voices share deeply personal moments relating to immigration, infertility, divorce, mental health, suicide, sexual orientation, gender identity, racism, colorism, casteism, religion, and much more, all while balancing the push and pull of belonging to two cultural hemispheres. Every story sheds light on the authentic truths of living as womxn with hyphenated identities that have only been whispered – until now.
We interviewed Gabrielle and Kamini and asked them about the process of collecting emotional and complex narratives, the underrepresentation of South Asian experiences in print and media, and more!
What was the motivation behind collecting deeply personal stories from 32 writers?
Brown Girl Magazine has always been a digital storytelling space for South Asians across the diaspora. In creating “untold,” we wanted to give our community a different way of consuming South Asian diasporic stories. We wanted to dive deeper into the lived experiences of our community and elevate topics that aren’t usually spoken about – like infertility, addiction, and suicide – through a creative nonfiction lens so the stories jump off the page and transport the reader into the world of each author.
Many of these South Asian writers open up about their experiences with mental health, gender identity, racism, and other important topics. Can you tell us about the process of collecting these emotional, relevant, and complex narratives?
When we started this project, we didn’t have any expectations or topical categories that we were intentionally looking to fill. Our main goal was to depict the lives of women within the diaspora in their truest forms. But as the story pitches came in, we started to see distinct themes of these experiences start to take shape. And we soon realized how much the writers trusted us. They shared some of their deepest, darkest, and most difficult moments with us. And in letting us in their world, we took on the responsibility of making sure their “untold” stories were told in the most authentic way. From that point on, that became the goal for us: to make sure that we’re doing right by the writers.
What does “untold: defining moments of the uprooted” mean to you and why was it chosen as a title? Why did you decide to lowercase the title?
The title is actually quite literal. These are the untold stories of people whose families were immigrants, who moved to new countries to restart their lives. Many times, as a first-generation immigrant, you’re straddling two or more cultures at the same time while never truly feeling rooted in any of them. And we wanted that to be one of the first things people noticed when they picked up this book. We decided to lower case the title because this book is unconventional, it’s bucking the status quo, and it needed an untraditional title style to keep that theme consistent.
The South Asian diaspora is not something that has been talked about much…until now. Why do you think the South Asian experience is underrepresented in print and media?
This gap is what inspired Brown Girl Magazine and later “untold” to come to life. We wanted to make a space where South Asians living abroad could see themselves beyond the confines of their families and physical communities. The larger media landscape is now focused on diversity and creating more space for different groups, but we’ve been at the forefront of that for over a decade. And overall, this issue is not just a South Asian issue. Underrepresentation in media is a minority issue, and it’s something that will be corrected when the people who make the decisions recognize the immense value of diverse storytelling.
What do you hope readers will take away from these fresh, diverse voices? What lessons can we learn from this book?
Many times, throughout the editing process, we would stop and talk about how we see these themes or have experienced something similar in our own life. In turn, we hope that “untold” starts those conversations for others so that they can share their own lived experiences and feel less alone. Mostly we hope that “untold” provides a sense of community for those that need it.
We hope that one of the lessons “untold” can give to readers is the fact that people are resilient. And even in our darkest moments, there is still hope.
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