Day 181 (of 186) can we rationalize the thinkings of role models from the past
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote books that have been read for generations. Made into a tv series. But because of some of the language she used, her name is being taken off a long standing award: https://globalnews.ca/news/4295409/laura-ingalls-wilder-little-house-literary-award-racism/
It might be that Alfred Einstein also had some “insensitive” terms he used: https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewfrancis/2018/06/18/what-should-we-think-about-albert-einsteins-racism/#5e0ea30f7ece
Mark Twain, who has a writing award named for him, has a prominent character whose name I can’t in good conscious even bring myself to type out!
And the “in the cupboard” book….good entry point to discussing terms that have always been offensive…though still have some that embrace the name….unlike the Cleveland baseball club and Edmonton and Washington football teams whose nick-names I tend to not use. Change is inevitable – let’s become respectful sooner rather than later…
How do we consider thinking and writing from a bygone era in a time where we are more aware than ever that names – especially stereotypical ones- can (and have) indeed hurt, demean and oppress people.
Many books that were once considered “children’s books” are now more appropriate for a more mature/older audience because of the era they represent. I still have to have discussions about words starting with N, R, I and G (and a few other letters) that are inappropriate in our era. They are hurtful and harmful. But what if some of the writers and editors of the time didn’t know how future generations would read them. I’ve had to “edit on the fly” a few read alouds that I forgot were using “terms our grandparents used, but I sure won’t” in them.
Heck -I even stumbled upon a line in a fiction book I’m re-reading that talks about someone using an offensive term with a character reminding a friend to “stay calm. They didn’t invent the word”. If it’s the word you have in your vocabulary….and in larger society’s vocabulary….can we assign today’s values on the past (or futures) reality?
So, if we are judging people from history by the expansive language (and mindsets) we have today….how far do we go…and do we connect actions as well…many presidents were slave owners…but were there better space owners than others…? If you grow up not knowing or learning different….well, in schools we remind ourselves that kids do what they see…and if you only see and hear certain things….can we assign blame? Or can we just be reminded that almost (probably all but I’ll digress) every hero has faults and ideas that can influence how we look at them – people are people…and thoughts we have today may also be reflected upon 7 generations from now by people wishing we knew better as we do and say what we do.
I think the award can still be named after Laura Wilder….but my thought may change…but as the sign outside my window says: