cover image Beyond Ethnic Loneliness: The Pain of Marginalization and the Path to Belonging

Beyond Ethnic Loneliness: The Pain of Marginalization and the Path to Belonging

Prasanta Verma. IVP, $18 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-5140-0741-9

Poet Verma debuts with a candid exploration of what it means to search for belonging in a society riven by racial and ethnic prejudice. Growing up in rural Alabama, Verma felt perennially trapped in a “liminal space” between two cultures (“If God wanted me to be Indian, why had my parents left India? If God had wanted me to be an American, why did I look Indian?”). Addressing readers who feel similarly “stateless,” she explains how minorities in the U.S. experience both invisibility and hypervisibility as they’re simultaneously “targeted and profiled” and “ignored in ways that diminish our influence.” Such treatment, Verma contends, fosters social exclusion and loss of cultural identity. While Verma wisely avoids easy solutions, she advises readers to draw boundaries around one’s “time and energy” (by limiting news sources that cause “vicarious trauma,” for example), and emphasizes the grounding power of faith, because “we are perpetually seen, known, and loved by God.” A dizzying amount of ground gets covered here; as a result, worthy topics such as parenting in a racialized society, representation, and PTSD in people of color get somewhat shortchanged. Still, readers will be won over by the author’s bracing honesty, keen insights into America’s systemic inequalities, and measured hope for repairing them (“I can speak up, speak out, write, pray, think, share my story”). It’s a brave and compassionate look at questions of belonging, identity, and faith. (Apr.)