Say You’re One of Them While reading Say You’re One of Them I became emotionally drawn to the characters. I found that the short stories were a sad and harsh reality check. This could be because all of the stories were written in the perspective of a child, or the issues involved. Uwem Akpan tells very saddening stories about prejudices against religion, and ethnicity, and the violence that goes along with that. He also tells about the everyday struggle of poverty between families.
I was aware that these issues occurred, not only foreign countries, but in the United States as well, but I never had a first hand look at the personal effects it had on families. While reading What Language is That? I found that I could really relate to the young girls. I remember being that age and having an inseparateable best friend, someone who just knows everything about you. I could not imagine one day, out of nowhere being told to just forget about them. I was pleased to find out that the girls followed their hearts instead of listening to their parents. What compelled me most though, was the pure innocence of the girls.
They did not care about the differences their parents did, they only knew the importance of their friendship. I think it is really sad to put distorted ideas and feelings onto a child. Children do not discriminate against race, ethnicity, or religion; they only see what really matters, which is someone’s personality. It is almost an everyday occurrence to hear about atrocities based on religious disputes. For myself, especially after 9-11, I pay more attention to it on local and world news. I think it is completely ridiculous to judge and ultimately harm someone because of what they believe in or because they act differently.
It is upsetting to come to terms with knowing that children are being told who they can or cannot be friends with because of these differences. When parents do this they are literally passing their negative ways of thinking onto the children of the future. The other story I felt really drawn to was My Parents Bedroom, because it hit really close to home for me. It was extremely disturbing to read about the troubles this family had to go through because of the ethnic differences between the parents. Therefore when extreme measures were taken upon this family, the children were not only witnesses to terrible acts of violence but were attacked.
I believe in modern times, it should not just be accepted for people of different ethnicities to be married, I do not think it should even be a second thought. For example, my mother is of Russian descent and was raised Jewish, and my father was of Irish and German descent and raised Catholic. They did not think twice about marriage because of this and they have been married for thirty years. To be judged because of who you marry is absurd and to be attacked because of it is insane. I do not usually hear of these types of stories on the news. I can imagine it was a major deal sixty years ago, but now, not so much.
With the diversity of the United States I think it would be almost impossible to perform violent acts on all the people in an interethnic marriage. My heart went out to the children effected by this, they did not choose for this to occur in their family, especially from people they thought they could trust. It is not even imaginable to me to read in My Parents Bedroom the events that occurred because of the parent’s background differences. The children in this story were discriminated against and violated without any understanding of what was going on.
When I started reading X-Mas Feast I felt extremely drawn to the characters. This could be because it was the first story I read from this book, and was unaware of what I was getting into. In any event, reading about that family and the struggles they faced everyday with poverty was heartbreaking. Even just trying to figure out where their next meal was coming from was a struggle. I definitely take for granted being able to walk into the kitchen to grab something to eat, and this story was a harsh reality check. I could understand why the oldest daughter took it into her own hands to make any sort of means of money.
She went into prostitution to try and help her family, because the only other source of income was begging or stealing. I also think the parents were stuck between a rock and a hard place with their feelings towards her selling herself. I believe as parents they were mortified, but wanted and more importantly needed the money she was earning. As sad as it was she was the only child with a promising future. When I hear stories like X-Mas Feast on the news, I usually don’t think much more into it than its sad. When I see homeless people I usually feel bad but in the back of my mind I do not understand why they do not just get a job.
Reading this story put me into the situation on a much more personal level. Before it was easy to judge, but now I have a better understanding of the everyday struggles caused by poverty. So in conclusion, some people might find Say You’re One of Them controversial. For me reading and learning about people’s everyday struggles with poverty, religious, and ethnic differences was a reality check. I really enjoyed reading these sad stories. They helped me understand on a more personal level what these families go through. I found Say You’re One of Them very mind and heart opening.