Monday, May 30, 2016

The Hidden Wound

I picked up The Hidden Wound, by Wendell Berry, and quite simply could not put it down.  Berry writes about racism from his own personal experiences growing up in Kentucky.  The work is lyrical, bold, and self-reflective, and I believe it would make a very interesting read in tandem with Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, a stunning work.  Some of the passages that I found the most thought provoking are as follows:
There is a peculiar tension in the casualness of this hereditary knowledge of hereditary evil; once you begin to awaken the realities of what you know, you are subject to staggering recognitions of your complicity in history and the events of your own life. 
I believe she had great intelligence, which had been forced to grow and form itself on the strange struggling wildly heterogeneous bits of information that sifted down to her through various leaks in the stratification of white society.

The crisis of racial awareness - the sense of being doomed by my history to be, if not always a racist, then a man always limited by the inheritance of racism, condemned to be always conscious of the necessity not to be a racist, to be always dealing deliberately with the reflexes of racism that are embedded in my mind as deeply at least as the language I speak. 

She was always showing you something:  a plant, a bloom, a tomato, an egg, an herb, a sprig of spring greens.  Suddenly you saw it as she saw it - and it entered shadowless into you mind.  I still keep the deepest sense of delight in the memory of the world's good tings held out to me in her black crooked floriferous hands. 

Whites fear what they feel, secretly or otherwise, to be the righteousness of the anger of the blacks;  as the oppressors feel, secretly or otherwise, morally inferior to those they have oppressed.  

...real healings and renewals in human life occur in individual lives, not in the process of adjusting or changing their abstractions or their institutions.  

In America...getting the job done is good.  Pondering as to how the job should be done, or whether or not it should be done, is apt to be regarded as a waste of time. 
We wish to rise above the sweat and bother of taking care of anything - of ourselves, of each other, and of our country.  We did not enslave African blacks because they were black, but because their labor promised to free us of the obligations of stewardship, and because they were unable to prevent us from enslaving them.  They were economically valuable and militarily weak....We decided that blacks were inferior in order to persuade ourselves that it was all right to enslave them. 

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