Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The fact of the matter is, I grew up "privileged" (I believe that is the term they are using these days.) I come from "old money" on one side of the family, "new" on the other. You will not see me wear white pants/skirt.etc between Labor Day and Memorial Day. When invited to a baby shower for a second child or beyond, I gracefully decline on principle. Cotillion graduate, check. I can probably quote much of Miss Manners. But if someone were to ask my brothers and I what is was like growing up with money, the response: I don't know. It is the only life I know. I know that I experienced just as many challenges, perhaps even more, than others. Unlike some of our extended family members though, my brothers and I were definitely raised to not judge others, regardless of their race, religion, financial standing, etc. It is the person that matters, period!

Through adoption, we now have a mixed race extended family. It has been shocking to me to learn of family member who were not accepting at first of these new family members when they first joined the family.

A few years ago I reconnected with some childhood friends on Facebook. I sent each of them an email letting them know of the bad experiences I had when my family moved to CA while I was in high school (including a girl sitting next to me my first day of class telling me we couldn't converse because she was black and I was white.) I was so grateful to have grown up where people were not judge by for the color of our skin. Two of the friends are black and one is Asian. They let me know how it was for them, that even though we did not treat them any differently, at times, they felt out of place just because of the color of their skin.

This takes me to this book. A story of conflict between people of Japanese and Chinese descent living in Seattle during the 40s. Actually, add to that mix the conflict with the Caucasian American people. I was glad I had a free night to just sit and read from 7 to 11, and read this whole book. I am glad I did not have to put it down. Just as I learned so much in reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or Flags of our Fathers or The Devil in the White City, and the list can go on, I am glad I learned reading this story. I felt really pulled into the story. Frankly, I was appalled to learn how people were treated, in our own country.

And in a way though, I felt pains of guilt, as I was reminded of post 9/11 days. How following the attacks, we as a nation started fingering anyone with Arabian or Afghany or similar appearance. The gut reaction of fear or anger you felt, but which hopefully then immediately subsided as you again regarded them only as someone like you or me, and not another person hoping to attack our nation.

Sometimes I prefer to not know what really happened in our history. But then I know that we really should learn from history; will learn to recognize how we do repeat history, over and over - in this case, it may be a different race, or a different war - but we repeat cruel, and in my opinion, unforgivable reactions nonetheless; must learn to not repeat history the next time.

Most readers probably don't get this much out of reading this story, but some stories just really hit me and reach out to me, even fictitious ones albeit based on reality like this one. This is a great read.


1 comment:

ariel said...

this one is sitting on my shelf, ready to read. after your good review i'm excited to finally pick it up!