Hello Rev. I am a piece of white trash. The only thing I might be able to add to this article is that it singles out a writer like Kevin Drum and deals specifically with what he wrote, adding to the monster chorus —
is that the entire apparatus of professional “publication” that promotes groupthink or reinforces closely-held beliefs gives us nothing but the same thing, over and over and over again.
I come from a long line of “white” single mothers and each and every one of us was as worthwhile as any other person going way back, but the reality of their experience and mine as well is work like a dog, crash-and-burn, be buried, next generation starts over. My paternal grandmother, for instance, was a young teen who fled Pogrom in Russia and, upon arriving in New York City, learned her cousin was flunking out of the pharmacy program at Columbia University. Somehow, back in those old days, she managed to convince the school to let her take over despite speaking little English. She was 13 years old at the time. She finished 2 years later speaking perfect English and became a pharmacist in Hell’s Kitchen. Later, she became the first licensed female pharmacist in California. My father (a twin) told me a vivid memory of standing at the window in their tenement in Hells Kitchen and watching his mother walk to work in the morning, holding his brother’s hand. Then he and his brother would get beat by the Russian nurse she had hired to take care of them —if she was feeling less angry, she would give them bottles with sugar water laced with vodka to make them go to sleep.
That’s just one story of my family and one side. On the other side I am Irish trash, dating from George Sexton who escaped Ireland on one of those death ships to Jamestown in 1609. He was reportedly a thief, as in those days that was for certain better than starving. My mother was one of the first women to work as an animation art director for Disney; she quickly left that facility with her lifelong friend, Bill Melendez and went to Playhouse Pictures, then UPA. I have her Cannes Golden Palms but not the Academy Awards she won — those burned in a fire in my father’s house caused by my younger brother, who died of AIDS in a prison halfway house. My mother died of pancreatic cancer when I was 3 months old. She got it, almost certainly, from using acrylic paints during the course of her job — the job that put my father through school with 2 Master’s Degrees and a Ph.D. Today, this would result in some type of legal action against the studio; but we all know how successful such actions have been, and even to this day — continue to be. I honestly don’t know how much money was made off my mother’s talent. Plenty. There was even a period of time her name was removed from credits and the studio owner name substituted. The dead don’t complain.
So I have come to understand over my life, as I was given charge of my family’s few possessions and the stories of their lives, passed on to me, that those in my family who came before me, as well as myself — were human consumables. So when someone else says something about their experience, I listen to them, as I have listened to Ezinne and will listen to others always. From my perspective, articles like Drum’s grate the hell out of me because I can see he’s a lousy writer and I am personally, sick of hearing shit like this which is meant only to make people like Drum and his “readers” feel better about themselves momentarily. He’s a knowitall, his skill is so limited, and he probably has never actually listened to someone different from himself for more than two or three minutes in his entire life.
I’m not writing here about Ezinne, or black Americans, or people elsewhere in the world. I’m responding to your one-sided perspective. This monolithic attitude is like a cultural version of “We’ve always done it this way …” and it is costing us all so much in terms of real wealth in experience and interaction. I honestly don’t know, economically or socially, what the cost is of holding a permanent dinner party with the same guests saying the same things louder and louder while the vast majority of others “serve” them. So much — incalculable.
There are 150 million women in this country, and some 3.8 billion worldwide. Are they all illiterate? Innumerate? Incapable of doing anything original or worthy?
In order to even get to the small point I am at with my writing, I have had to work 50 times as hard as someone like Kevin Drum. That’s just me. I can’t guess or know how much harder others have to work — but I do know there is only ONE Native American author ever featured or promoted by legacy publishing and media. I know that when any minimal slot opens up for an African-American author, the message I see is the same, approved message that, as Ezinne points out, “white people” (the Mother Jones or “other” readership or viewership) want to hear.
The group and perspective that is featured is so tiny, narrow and unimaginative. It’s why I tend not to read fiction. I have in the past defended writers like J.K. Rowling from attacks from douchebags like Harold Bloom and everyone knows I loathe fat, intellectually lazy, bossy Bloom as the symbol of how f***d up 20th century literary academia was and is. But J.K. Rowling’s work is based almost 100% on rehashing of work done by white, male, British authors of the 18th and 19th centuries. That’s all well and good but she’s the ultimate “richer than the Queen” lottery recipient by duplicating the expected narrative. What she writes is not the word of a real single mother on the “dole” as it is said she was when she miraculously conceived the entire Harry Potter series while riding the train. At least it’s not the same as anybody else I know who’s had to struggle to feed or clothe their child — somebody maybe who’s lost a child.
I could go on but nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear. They say once a woman is over age 30 nobody wants to look at, listen to or be near her. She is only good for laundry and scrubbing floors.
Isn’t that what they say?