Beyond Ethnic Loneliness: The Pain of Marginalization and the Path to Belonging, By Prasanta Verma alt

Beyond Ethnic Loneliness

The Pain of Marginalization and the Path to Belonging

by Prasanta Verma

Beyond Ethnic Loneliness
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Published: April 16, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0742
  • ISBN: 9781514007426

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"So what are you? Go back where you belong!"

Majority white American culture has historically marginalized people of color, who at times feel invisible and alienated and at other times are traumatized by oppression and public discrimination. This reality leads to a particular kind of aloneness: ethnic and racial loneliness.

An Indian American immigrant who grew up in white Southern culture, Prasanta Verma names and sheds light on the realities of ethnic loneliness. She unpacks the exhausting effects of cultural isolation, the dynamics of marginalization, and the weight of being other. In the midst of disconnection and erasure, she points to the longing to belong, the need to share our stories, and the hope of finding safe friendships and community. Our places of exile can become places where we find belonging—to ourselves, to others, and to God.

"Prasanta Verma wonderfully articulates what ethnic loneliness means for people of color through personal stories, poetry, and research. This combination of experiences and expert insights helps us move out of the shadows of subconscious discomfort toward acceptance, healing, and strength. Read this book to grow your appreciation of how our God-given differences add to the richness of living, relating, and belonging."

DJ Chuang, director of Christian Asian Mental Health and author of MultiAsian.Church: A Future for Asian Americans in a Multiethnic World

"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a moving read for any person of color who has silently carried the burden of isolation, invisibility, and marginalization in a society that has 'devalued, attacked, beaten, shot, lynched, enslaved, exiled, killed' those who do not conform to a 'white-majority culture.' Prasanta Verma's words provide the embrace I never received in spaces where I felt unseen and unheard when discrimination and racism disregarded my racial identity. If you work with persons of color and seek to comprehend these struggles, read this book now."

Terence Lester, founder of Love Beyond Walls and author of All God's Children

"Before reading this book, I had never thought to give myself permission to connect my ethnicity with loneliness—even though I experienced it in palpable amounts. Prasanta not only gives readers permission for this and so much more in her offering, but she also holds their hands and walks alongside them as she illuminates a path forward. Belonging is deeply personal and spiritual, and it embodies the gift of community given to us by a relational Savior. I am excited that others will get to explore these topics in Beyond Ethnic Loneliness and be reminded of their place in this world and the world to come."

Quantrilla Ard, author, speaker, and grief coach at The PhD Mamma

"With clarity and insight, Prasanta Verma gives voice to stories of isolation and marginalization that are often experienced by many immigrants and people of color. Her engagement with these narratives addresses critical issues faced by racial and ethnic minorities. The book also moves the reader forward toward healing, hope, and an understanding of culture and ethnicity that is rooted in Scripture. Verma reminds us of the God who perpetually knows, sees, and loves us. This book is a valuable resource to anyone engaging in issues of race and ethnicity."

Joshua Joseph, assistant director of the Thriving Immigrant Congregations Initiative at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Prasanta Verma not only takes readers on her journey as an immigrant to the United States but also does a deep dive into the struggles, blessings, and humorous situations immigrants find themselves in as they live, grow, and try to find their place in a country they have not originated from. She defines the complicated feelings of life in the in-between space while simultaneously reminding ethnic outsiders that not only do they belong, but their ethnicity is also beautiful and God honoring. This book will challenge your assumptions and help you walk in the outsider's shoes."

E. L Sherene Joseph, writer and storyteller at the crossroads of Christianity, culture, and community

"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a literary basket brimming with goodness. Within its pages you will find a sojourner's memoir, a motherly embrace, a valuable glossary, scriptural insight, and thoughtful resources. Loneliness has been a backdrop to our human stories, and this project brings much-needed acknowledgment and practical steps to help fill the emptiness. I'm incredibly grateful to call Prasanta Verma a friend, a sister in Christ, and a leader of wisdom and grace. May her work spread far and wide into the hands and hearts so desperate to know that they belong—to themselves, in safe spaces, and to our God."

Dorena Williamson, bridge builder and author of The Celebration Place

"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness is a revelation. Prasanta Verma beautifully illuminates the joys and struggles of ethnic immigrants and BIPOC in America. Although ethnic loneliness is found inconsistently in other literature on ethnicity, racism, or racial trauma, Prasanta centers it. She skillfully shares this through stories about her family, India, American history, Scripture, research, and poetry. Prasanta invites us on a journey from ethnic loneliness toward embracing who we are and how we belong to God, ourselves, and one another. She also graciously welcomes and teaches us how to walk alongside those on this journey."

Sheila Wise Rowe, author of Healing Racial Trauma and Young, Gifted, and Black

"Beyond Ethnic Loneliness so helpfully names and holds space for the challenges faced by ethnic minorities, challenges that are overlooked or swept under the rug. I felt seen by Prasanta Verma's thoughtful reflections, compelling stories, and poignant poetry. She gives insights of Jesus being in the margins with us and how Scripture speaks to and offers hope for our experiences of marginalization. I wish I'd had a book like this much earlier in my life and commend it to anyone looking to learn and grow in this area!"

Sabrina S. Chan, author of Learning Our Names: Asian American Christians on Identity, Relationships, and Vocation and national director of InterVarsity Asian American Ministries

"Poet Verma debuts with a candid exploration of what it means to search for belonging in a society riven by racial and ethnic prejudice. . . . It's a brave and compassionate look at questions of belonging, identity, and faith."

Publishers Weekly, December 2023

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: A Country with No Name

Part One: So, What Are You? Understanding Ethnic Loneliness
1. Defining Ethnic Loneliness
2. Disbelonging and Home
3. Beauty, Belonging, and Identity Theft
4. Isolated and Othered
5. Marginalized and Stranded
6. Exiled and Disconnected

Part Two: So, What Can Be Done? The Path to Belonging
7. Trauma and Healing
8. Sharing Our Stories
9. From Disbelonging to Belonging
10. A Better Country

Appendix A: BIPOC Mental Health Resources
Appendix B: Further Reading


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Prasanta Verma

Prasanta Verma (MBA, MPH) was born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills in the South, and now resides in the Upper Midwest. Her essays and poetry have been published in Sojourners, Propel Women, (in)courage, Inheritance Magazine, the Indianapolis Review, Barren Magazine, and the Mudroom blog. She served as a speech and debate coach for over ten years. When she's not writing, speaking, or working, she's drinking chai, walking, or reading. Prasanta lives with her family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.