Saturday, August 04, 2012

Some of my people

I read a book a long time ago.

It was an ethnography and spoke of literacy and poverty and race. Of mill towns along a southern river and the lives people led there.

It took a chapter for me to realize it was a book about places where part of my family comes from.  I was a graduate student, reading case studies about people that lived a life identical to that of my grandmother.  Of mill workers' children that mirrored my mother's childhood experience.  Gunny sack clothing and food stamps for the school cafeteria.  Tobacco field work in the summer and citrus fruit once a year.

I didn't tell anyone in class.  Not because I was ashamed but because I didn't know how to explain what had happened within the space of one generation.  I didn't know how to accurately describe what they had given, fought for, lost and learned.

How could I? 

No comments: