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PZ Myers dissects evolutionary psychology: brief, sharp and fabulous

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Tobias Wolff on race

When I'm not doing Pinkerite or doing technical writing for a living, I do creative writing - plays and essays. I recently discovered author Tobias Wolff by way of David Sedaris.

Wolff is known primarily for his fiction work but he published a good piece in the New Yorker on race in 2014. The piece ends:
When my daughter was in kindergarten, she often spoke of her favorite classmate, a girl named Alice. Alice was really nice. Alice liked to sing. Alice helped her clean up after a messy art project. Alice was funny. We finally got to meet Alice and her mother at a school parents’ night. She was black. Our daughter had never mentioned that; of all the many things she’d told us about Alice, this detail had seemed too trivial to mention, if she’d noticed it at all. In my daughter’s regard of Alice, of the qualities that made Alice Alice, the color of her skin had counted for nothing. I cannot say how strongly this affected me. These little girls, unconscious of each other in this one way, revived the vision of a possibility that I hadn’t been aware I’d stopped believing in—a land not of races but of brothers and sisters. That was Martin Luther King’s dream, and it is still a dream. It will never be anything more than a dream until we stop pretending that we have already attained it.

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