It is perhaps that personal search for contentment that makes this book a notable contribution to the literature on the American racial problem: Milliner’s “penitent Midwest regionalism” is first of all an attempt to heal within himself the disease and discontentment produced in those of us who have been told that what matters about us is that we are white.
My least-favorite bumper sticker of all time reads, "If you're not outraged you're not paying attention." As a remedy for this sort of dopamine-fueled attitude, the author suggests that we refuse to bow to the media outrage machine.
The imagined student’s intentions are honorable: to promote racial justice. But when the conversation begins, she has already set herself against the teacher and the course. The task of the teacher is to encourage her pursuit of justice while showing that the Great Books are not enemies, but allies. If this can be done, the student and teacher may even realize the same about each other.
Mark Clavier describes coming to terms with the fact that he is a white Southerner descended from enslaved Africans who subsequently became slave-owners. Reflecting on an ancestry containing triumph and shame, he discovers how closely the commendable and corrupt can be intertwined.
The censorship of slavery no longer dictates Huck’s morality. Unlike Tom, Huck has begun to question his society’s standards, to weigh and consider what is just and right, and I hope that by reading this story, my students may follow him in this difficult endeavor.
This is the humbling gift our children offer. If we seek to shape their character, at some point in the journey we’ll find ourselves backed into a corner, faced with our own hypocrisy.
On the heels of a consequential election, and the accompanying commentary demonstrating the continued pervasiveness of race-thinking, Barzun’s message of honoring each human individual’s value while recognizing our shared common humanity is a timely and timeless message.
Much of the novel reads like this sentence—the internal struggle of someone who wants—not forgiveness, nor salvation, really, but rather to not need to be forgiven, to not require salvation nor redemption, to maintain what dignity is possible, given irremediable forsakenness.
Drawing from both Baldwin and Berry allows us to see that the racist and imperial policies of the past continue to do immense social, economic, cultural, and ecological damage around the globe. Racial injustice is among other things an ecological issue.
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