Archive for September 24th, 2019

…The onus is always on us, we the oppressed, to challenge a system that wants to conserve its traditions and traditional values.  We come to understand that if we want to be included in the American conversation, we have to work twice as hard while being told that we’re lazy, or that the government gives us money, and then told that we’re angry if we bring up the problem of racism in public spaces or when it doesn’t feel like the right time.  So we keep putting off these conversations, or we’re having them on the Internet, where it’s too easy to be anonymous and therefore cruel and selfish.  It’s like car drivers behaving dangerously on the road, simply because they’re hidden behind metal, glass and distance.  In our more personal online spaces we fill our feeds exclusively with people we agree with.  If there is conflict below a post or tweet it never feels like a conversation – only like road rage.
So if we can’t seem to find ways to talk in person, or online, when and where and how do we talk?  I think a novel is a kind of conversation.  Both the writer and the reader bring their experience to the page.  The reader’s experiences and ideas can be reshaped, challenged, changed.  I know, I’m a writer, so of course I think the answer is books, but I think reading books is a good place to start thinking about and understanding people’s stories you aren’t familiar with, outside your comfort zone and experience.  A novel will ask you to walk in a character’s shoes, and this can build empathy.  Without empathy we are lost.  I tend to read mostly novels and have come to understand the world better through the lens of novels.  When someone else’s world is different from our own, we see how we are the same.  We not only become more empathetic to their experience but we see how we are equal.  We also see how much upper-middle-class white male writing has been the only thing taught in schools, the only experience for so long – most of the time anyway.  I think institutional change can come by teaching women, teaching writers of color.  We will all be better for it.  I like that novels ask us without seeming to ask us to think about other people, to understand the many-storied landscape of this country we live and die in – with or without truly knowing or understanding them.
    —    Tommy Orange
Excerpt from his editorial / opinion piece:  “What Novels Can Teach Us
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at:  https://time.com/5434396/tommy-orange-novels-conversations/
Online the article is titled:  “How to Talk To Each Other When There’s Little Common Ground
On This Day In:
2018 And Pay In Full
2017 If Only
2016 Equal Justice
2015 Not Enough
2014 Are You Even Listening?
2013 Namaste
2012 Looking Up
2011 Et Tu Brute?

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