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Witness – 2003

Witness runs a lot of issues with political themes; the theme of this issue was “Ethnic America,” and contributors like Naomi Shahib Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, and Bib Hicok examine the lives of immigrants, of outcasts, of refugees, and of the assimilation of individual cultures. The history of American diversity has not been a happy one, and this issue takes an unflinching look the past and current realities of that diversity.

Witness runs a lot of issues with political themes; the theme of this issue was “Ethnic America,” and contributors like Naomi Shahib Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, and Bib Hicok examine the lives of immigrants, of outcasts, of refugees, and of the assimilation of individual cultures. The history of American diversity has not been a happy one, and this issue takes an unflinching look the past and current realities of that diversity. From “Untitled” by Andrei Codrescu: “often after a public event // a pretty girl…or a shy tall boy…will say something in a foreign / accent to me we are from bosnia / Hungarians or jews my mother / was born near your city…now we are from here what should / we do with our accents // do like me I say / keep talking.” The photographs of people (cheerleaders in uniform, children in dress-up clothes, sulky teenage boys on bikes) throughout the issue are as effective at displaying diverse lives as the written work. – JHG

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