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From Cape Verde to the pages of comic books, this month’s stories explore the b-word. Belonging, that is.
By Laura Nathan-Garner
Monday, April 4, 2005

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Belonging. It’s one of the most basic human needs, and the price of its absence — exclusion — is both the source of some of our greatest conflicts and, paradoxically, a motivator of change and innovation.

Sure, some of us may be chameleon-like, blending in so as to not stand out. But most of us, no matter what our nationality, struggle to fit in ways both big and small thanks to our beliefs, our gender, our sexual preferences, the color of our skin, age, our accents, physical and mental dispositions, financial circumstances, and family structures, to name just some of our distinguishing characteristics.

In this issue of InTheFray Magazine, we examine what it means to belong — and what it means to be an outsider. To elucidate the global dimensions of this phenomenon, photographer Chika Watanabe shares her photos from some of the world’s most vibrant and prosperous cities — New York, Madrid, and Tokyo — in Envisioning belonging.

Far from these metropolises, Raque Kunz relays how a move to rural Rincon, Cape Verde, demands reconsideration of the importance of family and friends and a new approach to dating in A hard bargain. Meanwhile, in rural Shandong, China, InTheFray Assistant Editor Michelle Chen illuminates how one Chinese teenager’s failure to belong to either the city or the village complicates her struggle to make her way in the world in Homecoming for Hai Rong.

Bringing us back to the skies, streets, and bookshelves of the United States, David A. Zimmerman, in Walk this way, tackles the question of how female comic book characters are faring in what is often thought of as a Superman’s world — and how today’s superheroines are improving humanity, one comic book at a time.

Rounding out this month’s stories is the winning essay from InTheFray’s first annual writing contest. Showing readers how he goes about Respecting life, Bambi-style in a small Minnesota town where killing is the norm, Thomas Lee Boles emphasizes the value of animal — not just human — life. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest this year — we received some great entries and look forward to receiving more next year.

Thanks for reading — and remember all of these dreary April showers are sure to bring May flowers!

Laura Nathan, InTheFray Editor
Brooklyn, New York
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Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it. —Germaine Greer, writer, broadcaster, academic, and feminist
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