I was going to title this “Summer Reading”, but I’m still trying to learn from the blog experts about getting more readers by using better titles. Not that I expect fifty thousand readers to be hanging on my every word. I know I’m not THAT interesting. But it would be nice to have a few more readers because I feel that sometimes, at least once a week maybe, I might have something important to say. LOL And I really would like to have fifty thousand readers for my Caddo blog. That would be WONDERFUL!
All that being said, I was thinking the other day that although I read voraciously in the summer, I have neglected to update my book list on the left. Just one of those “get around to it” things. I’ve been reading Tess Gerritsen, Jodi Picoult, Diana Palmer, Nora Roberts, Michael Crichton, Michael Palmer, plus lots of history books about our area, Indians, the Civil War, etc. (And just a note to novel authors and readers alike: I love historical fiction and medical mysteries and crime stories. However, I’ve found that if a book contains detailed sex scenes I just skip them. Maybe it’s a sign of my age- “been there, done that” and certainly read it before. If the sex doesn’t add to the mystery, doesn’t advance the plot, or complicate the relationships I don’t need it, thanks anyway. Just tell me a good story and I can fill in the details.) Okay, my children are probably saying bad things by now, so…
This week I’m reading a rather intriguing book written by Barak Obama about race and relationships. It’s “Dreams from My Father- A Story of Race and Inheritance”. I find it interesting that all of the African American biracial people I’ve ever known have identified most strongly with their darker half. They say it’s because their skin color announces to the world which side they belong on. (I find it odd that we should still think there are “sides” especially when so many of us “whites” are actually mixtures of half a dozen races of all colors.) Yet, around here there are lots of biracial people who are Native American+ something and they identify with their Indian half (albeit for financial reasons) no matter how white-skinned, blond-haired and blue-eyed they happen to be.
My own background is Dutch, Irish, French, English, Seminole, Cherokee, Choctaw and who knows what else. The irony is that my son often asks me not to tell people we are French. New DNA testing offered by genealogy sites promises even more revelations of my “deep ancestral origins” in case I’m determined to prove that I have Native American or African or Jewish ancestors. While all of that is helpful to genealogy research, especially when paper trails fail, I doubt that any revelation would change my feelings about my identity. I suppose my black acquaintances would say that’s because I’m white and I’ve lived a “white life”. Perhaps. But I know what it’s like to be the minority- to be white in a 95% Mexican community, to be poor, to be “Okie”, to be labeled less than someone else. I know what it’s like to doubt, to fear. I guess I just didn’t grow up seeing my identity in my skin color. Maybe I should have. Mr. Obama’s book is one of those that makes you think, really think, about what it means to be black or white or brown in a society that still notices those things. And we do notice. I think that’s one of the reasons we won’t be saying “President Obama” any time soon. Not just because of his color, but because of his name. It has a foreign sound that leads the mind to thoughts of wars, and bombs, and pain. I know that isn’t fair, just truthful. And I should say, too, that Mr. Obama is quite truthful and open in the book about some of the things he has said and done and thought. I was not happy to read about some of them. But I’ll leave those for your own reading.
I’ll close this with another book, two really, about race and relationships. The first is White Conquest, written by William Hepworth Dixon and published in 1876. He wrote about visiting my little home town of Caddo, Oklahoma and finding it inhabited by “a new race of mixed bloods known to science as Zambos- the offspring of Negro bucks and Indian squaws”. He goes on to make some remarkable claims that are discussed in my Caddo blog. A Dutch ethnologist named Herman Frederik Carel Ten Kate read the book and was so intrigued by it that in 1883 he traveled to America to investigate for himself. You can also read his findings on my Caddo blog.
So…my summer reading has been a mixed blessing of light romance, captivating mysteries and disturbing histories. I think there is a lesson here: no matter what you read it is best to remember that it has been filtered through the brain of another person. Even if something is presented as “fact” it is the product of someone’s research, interpretation, understanding, and experience. I have to put the information to my own tests before I decide if it is enlightening or merely entertaining. Be sure you do the same.