If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay, which is a good incentive not to find out, to not look too deep, to walk carefully around the sleeping tiger. (p. 138-139)
I’m not a big one for direct quoting from books, mostly because it means I have to hunt down the quote. This time I wisely bookmarked it right after I read it. I kept going back to it and re-reading it as I finished the book.
Earlier on, Tommy Orange’s prologue points out the many ways American history has been revised to fit a benign image white people want to look back on fondly. And while there is more history and more commentary on the state of American society, this book is also a fascinating human story about a group of urban Native Americans gathering for a powwow.
If you are white, it might make you rethink a few of your easy privileges, which is never a bad thing. I could hope that people in power would read it, but given the state of our political world these days, I suspect the people who need to read it most would never read it – both because they seem to not be readers at all and because they are unlikely to seek out any criticism of a world where they are on top and feel like they deserve to be there.
But don’t miss it if you have a chance to pick it up. The writing is beautiful, powerful, intense, and challenging, and the time you’ll spend on it will make you think differently about the world we live in and your place in it.
There There by Tommy Orange