Thank you for asking hard questions

 

A recent letter to the editor laments the author’s belief that HCN “seems to have become just another ‘woke’ partisan magazine” (HCN, 10/15/18). I disagree and applaud HCN’s efforts to diversify your coverage and engage the less-than-savory realities of the American West — racism, extraction and destruction. Basic historical literacy reveals that genocide is the foundation of white settlement. As a white person, I believe it is our responsibility to ask hard questions of ourselves if we are ever to heal the wounds we have inflicted.

On land stolen from Indigenous Americans — land prioritized for fossil fuel development — public lands and environmental issues are tribal sovereignty issues. In rural counties, where farm labor is performed mostly by black and brown bodies while local governments cut tax deals to private prison companies, rural economic issues are racial justice and prison reform issues.

The author’s critique of identity politics belies his assumption that the “normal” identity is his own. This in itself is identity politics. To insist that we ignore politics and identity while benefiting from their structure is the hallmark of privilege. To turn away from this reality is, obviously, a choice that any of us are free to make. But to make such a choice is to consciously and intentionally retreat from the hard work to be done. I am thankful that HCN is interested in doing this work.

Charlie Macquarie
Berkeley, California

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