I did invite everyone to play along. And I rather apologize if you thought I was going to take my ball and go home...I just wanted to point out that it wasn't really a ball, but a jump rope. It doesn't bounce well, but it's way better for playing Cowboys and Indians. There was no chastisement.Ghost in the Machine wrote:Serzen,
After reading your post on my comments, I feel like a chastised child. Not that I don’t deserve it. However, in my defense, you did invite us to “play with” your work. And that’s all I was trying to do—just play. If you give a toddler an object with no context or instruction, the results will be unpredictable. A flute, for example, may never find its way into their mouth, they’d be just as likely take it and scratch shapes in the dirt or bludgeon their brother. I’ll give you back your toy now and trouble you no further.
As for the “whites’ bosses”, I saw the apostrophe and I did not think for one second this passage was referring to slavery. For months now, I’ve been reading about slavery in the years leading up to the civil war as research for my next book. Needless to say, it’s been on my mind.
You can’t control the associations your writing may evoke, but I hope you can control yourself. If someone accused me of racism, I would probably walk away, red in the face, and find a quiet corner to burst into gales of hysterical laughter. For I may be a “whiter shade of pale”, but my dear spouse of many years has skin on the other side of the spectrum. Remedial reading aside, if you want to punish someone, send them back to the seventh grade instead of the second. Now that would be harsh.
As I wrestle my burden to the top of this slope, I spend a lot of time thinking about all the ways it can roll back down. Some of my recent reading, and more than a few personal conversations have revolved around reading not just being a skill but also a craft every bit as complex as writing. I'm not one of these people who gets hung up on things like "Oh, the author said 'he bought a red flower', I wonder what he means by 'red'?" but I do believe in reading things as many times as I need to in order to see everything that's going on. "He bought a red flower, not because he likes them but because his mom does."
And, for the record, second grade was far more difficult for me. I was so heavily medicated due to very severe allergies that my six hours in the classroom felt like fourteen or more. By seventh grade they'd come out with different pills and I could get on with the business of whatever it is public schools do to kids. Besides, I thought algebra was neat (letters for numbers? awesome) and my French teacher was cute. It made things better.