wJun 4, 2009

In which I try to address my white privilege, or otherwise justify my ardent love for Little House.

I'm reading lots of Little House-related books and was about to write a post about Roger Lea MacBride's Rose books. But then I got to writing, and figured I should just make this its own post. Please feel free to openly discuss the topic: I am okay with being called on my shit, analyzing my white privilege, and focusing on the discussion at hand and not my hurt feelings.

I've already written on LiveJournal about Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books here and here.
I reread the entire series every year throughout my childhood. I think that I was reading these books in kindergarten. This seems improbable, but I have pretty distinct memories.

There was some discussion last time I posted about the books, with people linking to this website about the books showing the erasure of the American Indians.

I'm still not really sure how I feel about this critique. The book that deals most closely with American Indians is the second one, Little House on the Prairie, when Pa accidentally builds a house right next to hunting path, in the middle of Reservation land. As a child, I remember imprinting on Pa Ingalls disagreeing with their neighbor, Mr. Scott, because Mr. Scott would say, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." 'What a dick!' I thought as a kid. And in the end, the Ingalls move.

Yeah, the Ingalls moved around the Midwest and "settled" land that had already been inhabited by American Indians. It sucks. Even though Pa didn't kill anybody, he still participated in this movement of shunting aside indigenous people in favor of white people.

So did my ancestors, who lived in cities and farmed land that used to belong to different people.

But I guess I'm just curious. What else was Laura supposed to write about, if she's writing her personal history? It's a shitty thing that happened, but I think that not owning up to it, or sanitizing children's literature from it is not going to help matters at all.

She lived in the 19th century, and wrote in the 1930s. She wrote about her life. Is that bad?

I can see why any person would prefer to not read the Little House series and would rather read books about the lives of American Indians instead: books about them, books by them, books that celebrate them. I totally respect people who might decide to do that (not that anybody needs my permission).

But I guess I'm just curious why Laura Ingalls Wilder gets a bad rap when not everyone else does. As astutely noted in the comments of one of my previous posts on the LH books, "You mean to tell me that a story about upper-class, privileged women living in a society whose wealth is almost entirely based on imperialism is not a narrative of erasure?"

Anyway. This discussion of race will probably be tied in to future posts I made about this universe of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, because I'm devouring them like candy, and I tell you what Internet, there is some heinous shit out there, and I intend to read it so that you don't have to. I wanted this topic to get its own post, so that's that.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 7:55 PM

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