Good will and heartbreak

 

It broke my heart to read Gladys Connolly’s letter to the editor (HCN, 3/18/19) about Raksha Vasudevan’s essay, “Mountain biking is my act of resistance.” Vasudevan’s essay was so vulnerable and open. I, like Ms. Connolly, was surprised by the intensity of her fear. However, I experienced the essay as a window into a world I don’t know. She is a young woman, an immigrant, a person of color and a mountain biker in Colorado. Ms. Connolly and I share few of those perspectives. My final takeaway was universal: People of color, immigrants, get the same high off nature that I do! Ms. Connolly seems intelligent and compassionate, which is why her letter broke my heart. I felt she was denying Vasudevan’s experience of racism even though she knows nothing about it. In doing so, she was denying Vasudevan’s lived experience. How can we heal our country, my heart says, when even the intelligent and compassionate cannot listen without getting defensive? I think that there should be a new rule of good manners among people of good will. Just as you would not tell a young woman who is crying from a miscarriage that she will soon have other children, you should not tell a person who has experienced racism that their feelings are excessive and wrong. The emotion and intensity may seem too much to you. However, it does a double injury: First comes the injury of racism, and then the injury of denial of experience. 

Katie Larsell
Portland, Oregon

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