The Big House
The Big Roundtable

Two things I have in common with the author: one, is some possibility that one or more of my ancestors had been slave-owners, a thing I no more feel any personal guilt nor shame over than the author here seems to; the other, that I am the only member of my immediate family not to have been born in nor lived a day in Kentucky.

As it happens, I was born in Mississippi, not too far from the site of the story here, but of the nine states I have lived in and the forty-five I have crossed into at one time or another, Mississippi remains more a mystery to me than ever. I don’t have a single memory of the place, as I was around two when we left, but from everything I ever found out about since, have always been glad we did. (Extreme heat and humidity never did agree with me, nor did extreme racial tension, all of which seem plentiful down there.)

I have to congratulate the author for telling a right fine story like a storyteller, and not like a political hawker. For as delicate and spring-loaded as her subject matter is, to read this massive an entry and never encounter terms so worn-out and boring as “white privilege” or “systemic racism” in its telling, in 2017 is quite an experience indeed. I think intelligent readers have had quite enough of being told how to judge the content of a story by those telling it; the very dryness and even blandness of the style here shows a great deal more respect for the reader than does most of what gets published online these days.

We are given credit, as a readership, for having the humanity and good sense to decide for ourselves what it all means, and though the author might think herself a displaced southerner, the trait of allowing folks to make up their own minds is about as Dixie as it gets, according to my travels. Especially among Yankees and yuppies, who are quite fond of not only telling everyone what to think, but telling everyone what they already DO think, whether they think they think it or not.

You may live in New York, and that (I guess…) can be forgiven and overlooked; but this tale this well-told is solid southern, and no one less a daughter of Dixie could have told it at all.

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