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In Lak Ech. (Letters).

I was delighted to see your recent issue on Arabic Literature [Spring 2001]. It is so easy (and flattering) to name a periodical World Literature Today but so hard to live up to that reputation or the implied standard. In a time period when it would be convenient to chauvinistically focus on a "patriotic" (or better yet, jingoistic) tone, you have chosen to focus on the multicultural perspectives that make up our world. If we hope to understand a people, we must hear their voice, we must know their stories. And this has been the direction WLT has taken at a time of crisis. Thank you.

We are all very aware of how fragile our peaceful existence on this planet is, and we should be equally aware of how easily a people, a nation, a species, and a planet can be totally removed from existence. Such is the power of modern war-making. These are the very reasons that I feel multiculturalism, multicultural arts, and the study of diversity are so crucial to world survival. These are the very reasons I write, I read, and I teach. Long ago, while being interviewed for a university faculty position, I was asked, "Bilingual Education, Women's Studies, Chicano Studies, Chicana Literature--haven't you just jumped around a lot to a bunch of different areas?" I answered, "No, I have always worked in the same area: Attitude Change. If we can open up people's minds, we can increase awareness of human value, awareness of our own narrowness of perspective, awareness of human oppression." I have seen these struggles for awareness take many names. First we called it Civil Rights, then Minority Studies, then Cultural Awareness (and even Cultural Deprivation). We have called it Racism Awareness, Sexism Awareness, Multiculturalism, Pluralism, and more recently Diversity Studies. Some have even snidely referred to it as "Political Correctness," sounding like Orwellian 1984 doubletalk or Newspeak, but instead of "War is Peace," the insinuation is "Correctness is Incorrect." Soon we will fall under the umbrella of another momentarily less uncomfortable title, but the titles and issues will simply be reincarnations of the same issue, over and over, simply different verses of the same song. How do we keep human beings from killing each other, how do we replace hatred with understanding, how do we reach the Mayan concept of In Lak Ech (You Are the Other Me)? Profundizando this concept of In Lak Ech, then, we could truly comprehend the poetry of Mayan philosophers such as Netzahualcoyotl, who knew that I am the mountain, I am the eagle, I am the jaguar, I am the grasshopper, we are all made of the same spirit, and "the highest truth is poetry."

Thank you, WLT, for helping us all see the "Other Me." Thank You, Gracias, Shalom Aleichem, Merci, Danke, Aloha, Takk. And In Lak Ech.
Dr. Carmen Tafolla
San Antonio, Texas
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Tafolla, Carmen
Publication:World Literature Today
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Previous Article:An interview with Ana Maria Machado. (Children's Literature).
Next Article:Letter from Germany, 22 November 2001. (Letters).

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