Corrosion of Hate

Still so fascinated by Dreams of My Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance, by President Obama.

The man writes beautifully.  His book appeared when he was the U.S. senator-elect from Illinois.  It is not co-authored.

It keeps her engrossed until very late.  Then she falls into Advil-PM induced sleep.

The section she has just finished reading is Chapter Four (bloody great chapter).

Towards the end of the Chapter, Obama’s (white) grandparents have an argument about an incident involving the grandmother at a bus stop.  Obama’s grandmother was accosted by a belligerent man, and now wants her husband to drive her to work so that similar incidents do not occur.  Eventually it comes out that the belligerent man was black, a detail that sends Obama reeling.  He copes by driving to the house of Frank, an African American man who’s a friend of Obama’s grandfather.  The “Stan” mentioned in the passage is Obama’s grandfather :

“You can’t blame Stan for what he is,” Frank said quietly.  He’s basically a good man.  But he doesn’t know me.  Any more than he knew that girl that looked after your mother.  He can’t know me, not the way I know him.  Maybe some of these Hawaiians can, or the Indians on the reservation.  They’ve seen their fathers humiliated.  Their mothers desecrated.  But your grandfather will never know what that feels like.  That’s why he can come over here and drink my whiskey and fall asleep in that chair you’re sitting in right now.  Sleep like a baby.  See, that’s something I can never do in his house.  Never.  Doesn’t matter how tired I get, I still have to watch myself.  I have to be vigilant, for my own survival.

Frank opened his eyes.  “What I’m trying to tell you is, your grandma’s right to be scared.  She’s at least as right as Stanley is.  She understands that black people have a reason to hate.  That’s just how it is.  For your sake, I wish it were otherwise.  But it’s not.  So you might as well get used to it.”

Frank closed his eyes again.  His breathing slowed until he seemed to be asleep.  I thought about waking him, then decided against it and walked back to the car.  The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment.  I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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