Re-reading my post yesterday and the comments, I'm starting to feel like I was unnecessarily harsh in my review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. A reader of my review might never have guessed that I couldn't put the book down, that I laughed at Kingsolver's turkey tribulations, that I started to understand, more fully, why local eating is about more than merely reducing carbon emissions.
But for some reason, I didn't feel like cutting Kingsolver a ton of slack. Her world sounds like a lovely one, but it also feels like a world in which I have no place. I can't imagine living on a rural American farm, and not just because I love city life, or because I enjoy living five minutes away from grocery stores, bars, schools, parks, restaurants, and theatres, though those are good things. I can't imagine living in rural America because I can't imagine always feeling as if I was walking on eggshells wondering if someone was looking at me strange, or if that lady was rude to me because she had a bad day or because she hated brown people. And I really can't imagine living in an area where I was the only minority.
On the other hand, just two days ago I wrote about my love for Enid Blyton novels, and certainly, if I have no place in rural America, I really had no place as an Indian-American in 1950s upper-middle class Britain. Blyton's books make no mention of South Asians, though presumably there must have been SOME Indians living in Britain at the time. And Americans were always stereotyped as loud, rich, and not terribly smart. But as a child, I let this all wash off my back. I would imagine myself as another student at St. Clare's and just assume that I would show all the girls that their prejudices against Americans were invalid. I never let my race, nationality, or sex get in the way of my Blytonian fantasies of solving crimes and going to boarding school.
Why the disconnect between the way I treat the two authors? Is it the difference between approaching material as a idealistic young girl and a more cynical adult? It is because Blyton's dream world is fictional, whereas Kingsolver's world is all too real? Is it because I view Blyton as a product of her time, whereas Kingsolver lives in MY time? And what did I really expect from Kingsolver anyway? She likes living in the rural South. Isn't that okay? Did I really need her to write an apologia on behalf of the South? "Dear Minorities in America. I'm sorry you don't feel welcome here. Want some cheese? Love, Babs."
Actually, that might not have been so bad... I do like cheese.
It's an interesting thing being a blogger in what is presumed to be a predominantly white blogosphere. In real life, I never need to state that I'm not white. My name, my skin color, even the way I gesticulate telegraph my race for me. But on the blogosphere, it's easy for a casual reader to assume I must be white like everyone else. And thus, I often feel the need to signal, "Hey! It's me! Arduous! Not white! Wait, guys, it's me, again!! Still not white!!"
While I do think the minority viewpoint is an important one to bring to the table, and while I do see it as, somewhat, my responsibility to be that minority voice, I also recognize that that responsibility can sometimes work the other way. Because I sometimes feel like I'm not just representing myself, but all minorities, I can be over-sensitive in blogland in a way that I'm not in real life. I can read a book and become disgruntled over a small part of the book that I find exclusive and ignore the fact that the majority of the book is about a subject that unites all of humanity: food.
So while I think it's still important for me to provide my "minority perspective," I also think it's important that I pull back from time to time and remember, that in the end, there is more that unites us than divides us.
3 weeks ago