I was deeply skeptical that a race-themed book written by a white person could be meaningful or useful, but Irving’s memoir shook me profoundly where I’d hoped to find it worthless. Certainly it recounts plenty of “no, duh,” old-news about race, culture, whiteness, identity, and privilege. But if I look back not so many years, I recognize much of the author’s naiveté in my own past.
Irving and I share startlingly similar pasts – born in 1960 to prosperous, loving, WASP families; a sunny outlook on life and opportunity; raised to approach “the underserved” with respect and benevolence rather than solidarity; desperate to be “a good person.” The book’s definitions of “white dominant culture” may be foreign to many, but they hit home for me.
I applaud Irving’s courage in publishing her story, her hard-earned, unfolding awareness of the depths of our systemic, centuries-ingrained, racist culture. If she succeeds in opening more white minds, her book is worth a lot.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 321: 159 words, TOTAL = 52,362; 7,638 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.