Further notes as I am reading the book “So You Want to Talk About Race.”
I admire those who are throwing themselves into protesting. I dislike and question my own reluctance to take part, but I don’t expect to change. I am fighting my own fights with This is RED. I don’t want to have a life of social crusading or being a cultural warrior.
But I recognize that I have the luxury of not having to fight for my rights. I can rest in privilege.
Author Ijeoma Oluo speaks of racism as a lie told to justify exploitation, and inventing a servile class. It is striking me as if for the first time how slavery was a dastardly social and financial innovation. It was hitting upon a way to materialize elves–a separate order of being made only to serve and (in some points of view) only happy serving. Or derivations of view points, including an arrogant conviction that minorities are blind to the fact that they are made to serve. They don’t know their place.
I struggled at first to understand this refrain by Oluo: It’s about race if a person of color says it’s about race. But this illustration helped a great deal. Say that you are regularly punched on the arm for no reason, by any and all individuals. If someone accidentally knocks your arm, that still fits within the maddening pattern.
Another excellent point: A white person might dismiss a person of color as misjudging a situation. But that assessment is on the basis of the white person’s own experience. Why is the experience of the person of color not as valid?
I have started to perceive an alternate history without discrimination, in which it would not seem odd for any older man to play Scrooge. I feel a loss in not living in that world, for myself and for everyone. We were all robbed. There is something of a correspondence to Oluo’s noting that so many movies have white-only casts. She was painfully aware that her children found themselves erased by films “making up entire universes where people like them do not exist.” Look at the erasure of worlds.
I was also reminded of an anecdote from Robert Duvall. He says a “very successful English actor” saw A Streetcar Named Desire was initially embarrassed because “he thought a stagehand had wandered onto the stage accidentally.” It’s striking that he used the word “embarrassed.” How painful in regard to a stage presentation. It speaks of being excruciatingly aware that the way of things has been upset.