New Essay Up @ Flyway

My essay about trekking in Corsica (or sort of about that) won runner-up in Flyway‘s 2014 Notes from the Field nonfiction contest. Thank you Flyway and judge Christine Eisenberg. It was initially suggested (I’ll just keep to the passive voice here) that I “tone down” the essay’s racial content. I thought of that request today as I was discussing with students Hilton Als’ New Yorker profile of Richard Pryor. One landed on this Als insight into Pryor: “Being black has taught him how to allow white people their innocence. For black people, being around white people is sometimes like taking care of babies you don’t like, babies who throw up on you again and again, but whom you cannot punish, because they’re babies. Eventually, you direct that anger at yourself—it has nowhere else to go.” I could say this about a lot of mindlessly noxious people I’ve known, that they’re so impossible and damaging and unconscious, you end up hating you, not the bumbling fool. (That said, I’ve never really allowed the kind of innocence Als refers to; I’m not that good at suffering fools gladly.) I know what Als means with regard to all the impositions of race leading to a kind of anger with oneself. However the essay reads, I’m glad I didn’t “tone down” its racial contexts (more contexts than content). For those who aren’t white and for those who are (even when the latter don’t realize it), race is, very unfortunately, always a context.