I just sat down to read for a bit this afternoon, meaning to make some serious progress toward finishing Blue Calhoun. I am fewer than 100 pages from being finished, and I would like to see it on through. Thus, I was having to make myself not come post when not two pages in I came across an unstoppable passage. I begrudgingly dog-eared the page to come back to it (I hate to do that - it feels like some sort of permanent bruising to the book) and kept on. When a page later, another idea knocked me over, I knew I had to come on and post before it got out of hand.
This one (about Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement) is long, but I couldn't let it go:
I don't claim any special credit from seeing well before Kennedy died that we'd do nothing but pour live boys into one vast murderous greenhouse if we chose to fight that far from home. We chose and fought; and that gave fate a postponed chance to notify us it had never forgot how, a century before, we U.S. citizens exterminated all but the last American Indian (every one of whom were migrant Asians, as we'd forgot). So numerous thousand boys and girls were blindly poured out till the debt was paid. Thank Christ, not one of them came from my family. With civil rights I have to admit that, in the early days of the uproar, I took an old fashioned though genteel view of black people - if they'd been in such hot torment for three hundred years, why in God's name had I never heard an honest moan from one black mouth - not from one that was standing anywhere near me, and I'd stood among them my whole life.
. . . But when I watched the evening news for a good long while and kept on hearing young Reverend King with his gold tongue for bitter truth - still and again in the face of thug cops and Southern mayors my age and station but vicious as jackals - by then I'd slowly figured out what had truly gone down, what my kindly people had stood and let go down down down for endless ages, thinking they were kind when the plain fact was this - very few white trash in hoods and robes had done much worse in the eyes of fate than me, my mother, my dad and wife with our full white hands limp at our sides. And anyone of us that called himself "Christian" ought to find sackcloth and ashes quick, or better still, a fireproof vest for Judgment Day. (296-297)
I'm still reeling from the passion and truth of this passage. Price puts so much of the reality of southern racism in plain speech and manages to condemn and excuse simultaneously. I'm also personally upended by Blue's shameful statement that he had never (until his supper with Dr. Sandra Bedford and her son, Wilkins) "entered a black household to eat their food at their own table" (298) because his realization forced my own identical truth to surface. I'm still grappling at the slippery edges of what to do with this information.
OK. Enough typing. More reading.