Karen Russell’s 1987 ‘NYT’ letter ‘Growing up with privilege & prejudice’

Photo: Getty Images

In 1987, Karen Russell penned a letter in the New York Times titled “Growing Up With Privilege & Prejudice.”

“To our children . . . in the hope that they will grow up as we could not . . . equal . . . and understanding. – WILLIAM FELTON RUSSELL, WILLIAM FRANCIS McSWEENY,” she began.

Russell went on to write about the pressure to fulfill the dreams of her parent’s generation.

IN 1966, MY FATHER AND HIS co-author dedicated his first autobiography, ‘Go Up for Glory.’ Today, in 1987, having just received my Doctor of Laws degree, I wonder if I can fulfill the dreams of my parents’ generation. They struggled for integration, they marched for peace, they ‘sat in’ for equality. I doubt they were naïve enough to think they had changed the world, but I know they hoped my generation would be able to approach life differently. In fact, we have been able to do things my parents never thought possible. But that is not enough. I am a child of privilege. In so many ways, I have been given every opportunity – good grade schools, college years at Georgetown, the encouragement to pursue my ambitions. I have just graduated from Harvard Law School. My future looks promising. Some people, no doubt, will attribute any successes I have to the fact that I am a black woman. I am a child of privilege, and I am angry. In ‘The Book of Laughter and Forgetting,’ Milan Kundera writes: ‘The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.’ It seems that we have not come very far in that struggle in this country. We have entered the post-civil rights, post-feminist era, both movements I owe so much to. Meanwhile, my parents’ dreams are still around us, still unrealized.

Click HERE to read the full letter.

Comments

From the Web