Rukhsana Khan (pronounced ruk-SA-na kon) is a Canadian award-winning writer and storyteller. She visits over eighty schools a year in the United States and in Canada, and as stated on her website, her presentations “go from light-hearted fun for primary children to serious issues like teen suicide, loss and abandonment and child refugees.” She is the author of Silly Chicken(Viking Juvenile, 2005), Big Red Lollipop (Viking Juvenile, 2010) and Wanting Mor (Groundwood Books, 2009), a story about an orphaned teenage girl abandoned in a marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In September 2008, Rukhsana Khan gave a speech at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) World Congress in Denmark, in which she explores themes of integration, the reasons behind the need for cultural diversity, the challenges awaiting authors writing outside their culture and those eager to represent theirs… The speech is titled:
FREEDOM OF SPEECH VERSUS CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
Balancing the Right to Create Freely vs. the Need of People to be Respected
Here is an extract:
“Imagine how dull the world would be if we all looked the same, ate the same food
and dressed the same way!
I believe that just as biodiversity allows species to take advantage of evolutionary
niches, diversity of cultures explores all the societal permutations possible and helps
mankind to progress.
Societies are in a constant state of flux. Members move between communities
and with this comes the cross pollination of ideas. Over time cultural norms must change
and adapt as a result of this.
All this cultural exchange is very healthy. It prevents stagnation. It challenges a
culture’s status quo and allows for the vetting of long held assumptions. Ultimately only
the best and fittest concepts will survive to further contribute toward the progress of
The entire speech is available on Rukhsana’s website. I found it utterly honest and thought provoking. I hope you read it entirely, too.
Disclosure: I thank my friend, writer Pat Kahn (different spelling), for the well of information that she is. 🙂