Sour and Worry

Last night, I got a rejection. I feel like I’m at the point where a rejection feels more like touching the sore spot on your face, rather than getting punched, but it’s still unpleasant. It tastes sour.

On Twitter right now, someone is railing against stories that feature rape and I am sitting here in response, fretting about Ashland, which is, at its heart, a story about American slavery, and thus a story about rape. It is also a story about a kind of abuse there’s not a word for but that lays along those same lines.

I worry a lot about Ashland, mostly about whether I have the chops to pull it off and whether, if I do, anyone will want it.

But, to me, an important theme of the story is the ways in which we talk about American slavery as if it was something terrible white people did to black people a long time ago–“we” did to “them”–where we draw this firm line and push all the burden of reckoning with it off on the victims and their descendants while we assume white people pretty much came out of slavery, the perpetration of slavery, scot-free.

I assume this is a lie. An obvious lie we should all be able to recognize. Slavery was something people did to their own children, to their own nieces and nephews. A man who could sell his own child when he knew what men did to slaves, which he did because he was doing it, that man had to, by definition, be capable of doing anything to his children. So why wouldn’t he?

The heart, or a heart, of Ashland is the horror inherent in the assumption that whiteness is any protection from that kind of evil, how assuming that whiteness will protect you actually makes you an easy victim for the villain. And how that kind of destructive abuse echos on down to us, even now.