As seems to often be the case, I changed the book I read this month. I began with the best of intentions to read a collection of short stories by Louisa May Alcott but found myself bored to tears with the stories so I put down that book and picked up Anne of Green Gables instead. I’ve already talked a lot about Anne in the last several months so I’m going to take this opportunity to do a slightly different recap of my reflections on the series this month.
The first, and I would say most important realization, is that every single person I’ve written about this month is white. I had this realization about half-way through the month and it was both startling and distressing to me to discover that each character I think about that has influenced me in a strong way is, or at least presents as, white. Indeed, the only two characters that spring to mind that I’ve read in my lifetime that are very clearly not of European descent are O-lan from The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and Amir from A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori. Representation matters both for marginalized communities and for those of us in the majority. Our world is growing increasingly complex and if we don’t have a clear idea what the stories of others are we will continue to struggle to work together for the betterment of all.
The second realization I had was about myself. As I wrote about these characters I realized that each of them stood out to me as important people because of their ability to continue to try despite extremely challenging odds. The worlds they inhabited were not perfect, much as our world is not, but they continued to try and make things better for themselves and those they loved. How much better would our world be if we were familiar with the stories of those we loved and worked to make their world better?
All in all, I found writing and thinking about these characters this month to be deeply rewarding but I’m looking forward to shifting gears in June to talk about masculinity.