9.09.2008

To Kill a Mockingbird


My local library, as part of the Nation Endowment for the Arts The Big Read program, is handing out free copies of To Kill a Mockingbird in an effort to get the whole community to read this book together. As part of this effort the library is hosting a large number of fabulous events to get us excited and get us reading. I attended one such event last night--even the kick off event. Dr. Rex Ellis, a fabulous storyteller, historian, and scholar, was the keynote speaker at the event and while the entire program was wonderful one particular comment Dr. Ellis made really hit me hard and gave me something to think about the rest of the night. So now you get to read about and then think about it yourselves. He commented, and I am doing some major paraphrasing here, the he doesn't believe people when they say that they don't see color (we are talking about race relations here). We all see color but the key is not to put a value on the color we see. I think (and this is me thinking now not Dr. Ellis) that too often we spend so much time falling all over ourselves trying to claim that we are colorblind that we end up missing out on opportunities to make real progress toward better so-called race relations (obviously there is no such thing as race beyond the racist stereotypes that have been drilled into our tiny little minds hence the so-called in this sentence). But what Dr. Ellis is saying is that we are different and it is okay (even good) to notice that difference as long as we do not make value judgments based on those differences.


So go out and celebrate, enjoy, find beautiful and awe inspiring our differences and do it without making those value judgments that too many who have come before us and too many currently around us are making (or else I'll come and beat you up--and remember I lived in Northern Ireland for awhile so I know things like how to carry out a kneecapping). Love you all.

4 comments:

Natalie said...

I obviously have strong opinions about this issue being the (white) mother of a brown child. Often people will take a second look at me in the grocery store or wherever and then quickly look away like "I really wasn't checking you guys out." And I just want to say to them "its ok!" The people I appreciate are the people who do take a good hard look and then say to me "you have a beautiful family", or daughter, or whatever. Its not like I don't know that our family is a little different than the norm and why should I expect other people not to notice?
As pointed out, I see color every day. And I think its a very beautiful color indeed. :) Thanks for your post!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I love this book so much. I recently posted a list somewhere? Here? A Top Ten of books I love. I think I left this one off. That top ten needs some work. I think it was actually about 15 or 20 to begin with . . .

Yankee Girl said...

Natalie you do have a beautiful daughter!!!

STM--my list is getting longer and longer as we speak.

chosha said...

Of course race exists. In fact, the meaning of race has been extended in the last several decades to include nationality and culture. I think it's important to acknowledge race, because of the history that exists (and there's a danger of pretending the history didn't happen or doesn't still affect people today if we try to ignore it because we don't want to appear to be too aware of race) but also because race can be an important part of a person's identity. Obviously I agree that we shouldn't be reinforcing negative stereotypes or acting in a racist way. My point is more that when we acknowledge race (gender, sexual orientation, etc) we open a more honest dialogue and acknowledge a part of a person that may be very important to them.