By Patricia Allwood Hindman
I woke up this morning, which is a blessed feat in itself at seventy, and made a fresh discovery. Staying “WOKE” is keeping me awake. I also made a second discovery. I am grateful to the WOKE movement for the return of my sarcasm. See, we Allwoods have a reputation to uphold. We have, in the past, prided ourselves on sarcasm. Not hurtful sarcasm, although one may take that remark at face value. But rather, we see paradoxes and twists in most situations, statements, and bald-faced lies. And we tend to run with the ball, whether then or later. Even at funerals, and always at weddings. Sarcasm in our family is best implemented on those wonderfully naïve members whose virtue and good will are far superior to ours. However, I digress.
This morning, as my usual routine, I flipped through that wonder of wonders, the all-knowledgeable, discerning, well-rounded news of today only to be confronted once again with Little House on the Prairie, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Mr. Potato Head. I’m quite certain the Holy Bible was in the mix earlier; somehow God gave me the grace to miss that portion.
See, being “woke” now, I learned Mr. Potato Head has (well, had) a gender, by golly! I suppose I was aware of that fact, but I lacked the sensibility to be offended. Maybe it is because I’m so “Going Gray” that my first potato head didn’t come with a potato. Just the plastic pieces. Mom provided the potato and maybe the gender depended on size and shape-or maybe we had common sense enough to just not think it was a big deal.
Then I learn Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie has become offensive. The audacity of Wilder to be born in a generation without “Woke” people. It was a fav of mine because it had a strong female character. Never mind that she was saved by an African American doctor and that Pa and the Native Americans learned to live peaceable together. Certainly, both cultures were new to her and all the others on the prairie. The interesting aspect of the book at the time I read it (evidentially the “wrong” time) was learning how to live with fellow human beings. But now that some are “woke,” I’m staying awake fearful that censoring the book might just lessen our learning curve. What if I first met an Native American who was as unkind as a white person? (I’m also staying awake trying to figure out why I am white which seems a bit sub-culture today) What would tell me that once upon a time “privileged” whites were cruel to the Native Americans who scalped my ancestor. But I awoke this morning living in a “Woke” culture, and I’m tryin to discern the ground rules, although they seem to be as shifting as the California quakes. (Forgive me if that is an insensitive remark. Feel free to delete my blog.)
As for censoring To Kill a Mockingbird, I presume I was totally asleep when I read of the appalling white male jury who convicted an obviously innocent man of rape simply because he was black. That novel led me to look up the story of the real Scottsboro Boys (without Internet access I might add) and literally grieve over the inhumanity of people. And to think I taught that book for over 30 years, visited the hometown of Harper Lee and followed what little was known about her life. Now I must stay awake wondering if my teaching students that respect for all humanity can create a peaceful and thriving society was completely amiss. (Now I might also lose sleep wondering if many “WOKE people will change their child’s name; there are, after all many Harper Lees’ out there.)
I apologize to you, my reader. I WOKE this morning feeling upliftingly sarcastic in a witty, droll way. But sarcasm, as we all know, must be handled like a precious pearl (no offense to the oyster) or it can turn bitter. I’m afraid I am tottering on just such an attitude, and I don’t want to lead my readers down the same path.
It must be from lack of sleep. Now I must go and find some sensitivity training on the Internet. Or perhaps I should just take a nap.