A Gift Delayed

A couple of years ago, I wrote a little story for this blog called “God Rest Ye, Murray Hendelman”. It was, admittedly, an imperfect little thing. I didn’t give it the kind of time and attention I would normally give a story I was planning to submit to an actual publication — if I had, it would have finished it probably around Easter. But I had this vision, this little world in my mind, that I wanted to share.

There’s something that’s been bugging me lately about that story, something that some of my readers may not have noticed at all, and that some may have been pissed off by. Without divulging too much — you might still want to read the story — there are three characters, an African American family, who don’t get names.

And that is a tragic error. In essence, I used these characters as props instead of people. And that was wrong, a mistake born of my own whiteness, and my having grown up in a white-dominated society.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown more aware of the deep racial issues in our society. I’ve come to understand that the freedom on which the United States was founded was a freedom for whites, paid for by the subjugation and elimination of other races. And I recognize now that we are hardly the multi-culti paradise that Sesame Street promised me. If anything, some things have been getting worse.

One thing that I’ve learnt to do as a writer is, whenever I am writing about race, to have a writer of the race about which I’m writing to review my work. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s one way through the racism that can’t help but blind me to mistakes I make in my writing.

So, my gift to you, a gift delayed: The father’s name is Richard. The mother’s name is Tanya. The daughter’s name is Amari.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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About Whittier Strong

Whittier Strong is an MFA student in creative writing at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, with a focus in nonfiction. He graduated from Metropolitan State University with a BA in creative writing. He has special interests in sociology and philosophy.

Posted on 25 December, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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