Visibility as Privilege

What a privilege, not to be invisible at the book fair

As an author at the Frankfurt Book Fair, having a trade visitor pass from the GABAL publishing house was a wonderful opportunity to look around and browse in peace and quiet and at the same time to be sure of the appreciation of the exhibiting publishers.

“May I bring you an espresso to go with it?”

What an overwhelming feeling compared to my previous visits to the book fair, crowded and always in long queues in front of current topics and books.

So, based on a reading tip from my spouse, I ended up in the Ullstein publishing house in their reading corner and already had Hami Nguyen’s book “The End of Invisibility” in my hands.

Hami Nguyen deals with the topic of anti-Asian racism and its effects on society, which is often left out of the debate because people of Asian reading are considered “conformist”. They are invisible. The author tells her own story.

The core sentence for me can be found on page 222:

⏭ “What the dominant society can do is simple and at the same time so difficult: it must learn to recognize the existence of different perspectives that are perceived as foreign in a non-judgmental way. Not to evaluate from which position one speaks. In which language is spoken and from which place.” ⏮

The author describes, among other things, at the example of the famous press photo of the napalm girl from the Vietnam War how people react who have never had to adopt a perspective other than their own (p. 209).

One consequence of this is a lack of empathy and the fact that pain can not be anticipated at all if it does not affect one directly. And in my opinion, this insight applies far beyond the topic of anti-Asian racism.

Tolerance for ambiguity and the ability to change perspectives are the prerequisites for mutual understanding. A transcultural attitude goes hand in hand with the invitation to both accept differences in perceptions, perspectives and competencies and to discover them as resources in order to expand one‘s own perspectives and possibilities for action (see also Anna Fuchs, Transkulturelle Herausforderungen meistern, Rohwolt 2022).

“How rich would our society be if we could learn from the customs and traditions of all those who live in this country?” asks Hami Nguyen on page 215. I agree with her.

➡ And what do you think? What needs to happen to bring this idea of mutual learning closer to reality?

My name is Bernd Scharbert and my job as a mentor and companion for executives and leaders is to pass on my experiential knowledge after more than 30 years of leadership experience in the global corporate world. If you are interested, please feel free to follow me at LinkedIn, #prepare4landing or contact me directly.

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