Saturday, December 10, 2011

I just finished No Man's Land  by Eula Biss. I don't usually read nonfiction. I say this, but I've read a number of nonfiction books this year. The part that particularly touched me in this book was the last story where she talks about heritage and how we identify ourselves with these groups of people that we really shouldn't be identified with at all. She concludes the story by talking about being harassed by a black student at a high school she was teaching at, reporting the harassment, and then being apologized to by a  completely different student. When she points out that he was not the one doing the harassing, he says, "No, but it might have been my cousin." In this way she shows the value in white people, in white culture, apologizing for crimes in white history, regardless of what any single person's ancestors might have done. This is a sentiment I very much agree with and have gotten in many discussions about it. I have white guilt, I feel guilty for my privilege, I feel guilty for crimes of the past that I took no part in. I am still living the life created by the people who committed these crimes and therefore I see the value in apologizing, in trying hard to reverse these things.

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