“Oh, don’t give me that. I’m multicultural as hell,” I said crossly. “Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I have to subject myself to The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”
Liz, a well-meaning member of our informal book club, felt we should acknowledge Black Lives Matter, i.e, what used to be called Black Power. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie had been on her shelf for years. Unfortunately, I assured her, this best-seller is poorly written and devoid of style. Anything but that!
“You really can skip The Twelve Tribes of Hattie,” our friend Janet suggested tactfully. “Perhaps we could read a classic. Ann Petry or Ralph Ellison?”
We agreed to read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. And then we discussed multiculturalism. Does it mean race and ethnicity? Does it have to be about different cultures in the U.S.? What about the cultures of other nations? Does literature in translation count? French novels in French? African women’s novels? Greek or Roman poetry in Greek and Latin? The Tale of Genji?
It’s a puzzle.
In my white neighborhood, quite a few white people have Black Lives Matter signs on their lawns. But a sign means nothing if they/we don’t get the vote out in November. Should we join the Women’s League of Voters?
And let’s hope my book club can meet face-to-face again soon. Zoom is not like being in the same room. No wonder people have gone berserk and are racing around to bars and restaurants (hence spreading the virus). Please staay home. Listen to Dr. Fauci!
By the way, I just read an excellent article at The New Yorker, “Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ as a Parable of Our Time.”