Sometimes I read books because I should read them, even if I don't immediately want to. They're like eating unseasoned vegetables -- nourishing but possibly bitter. Still, I do feel enriched after finishing them, and before long I will choose another one.
The broccoli in my CD player this month is The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox
by Stephen Budiansky. Actually, it's a pretty interesting read, but the subject matter -- how the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters won the peace after the Civil War -- is so dispiriting that I have to take it in doses.
Most of the book tells the stories of several individuals who tried to make Reconstruction work -- tried to give black Americans equal rights in the South. They displayed a lot of courage, but it turned out the Confederacy was not the only Lost Cause.
Racism pervades time and space in our country. (In fact, we are getting a new book about how black settlers were abused in Indiana and the rest of the Old Northwest. The title of Anna-Lisa Cox's work is The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality
.) But powerful 19th century Southern whites celebrated their racism, made it the bedrock of their society -- and millions of people have suffered accordingly.
One of the buzz terms in my own social circles is "white privilege." It's a bitter morsel indeed -- hard for a lot of people to swallow in today's time of supposed equal opportunity. But when you work through something like The Bloody Shirt
, you can see how racism is down but not out.
Anyway, reading for fun is great stuff, but I hope people will also use the library to read about the problems of our world -- be they social, moral, environmental or otherwise. Hey, a few months ago I even listened to the autobiography of a politician for whom I had no love. I still don't love him very much, but at least I can better understand him.
Evan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.