For some years I’ve struggled over how to write about something as hurtful as racism or anti-Semitism without creating a racist or anti-Semitic work. I’ve gone beyond that and asked, can I write a racist or anti-Semitic work without being a racist or an anti-Semitic. On I struggled, until finally…since writing “The Good Ol” Boys”…I thought I had resolved these issues for myself.
I have even placed the short story on this blog site, and there it will stay. That was a victory for me: that I, the author, could have the balls to write about racism and not have people calling me a racist. (Is there any way to really know what people think? Authors are often left in the dark.) I would still be afraid, I say, if I hadn’t published the piece on the Internet. I waited for the ax to fall. So far it hasn’t. I had my head ready. So far my head is still attached. I’m glad and glad I took the risk. That I can write about what I need to without censoring myself is important to me. But I’m a long way from feeling totally free, free from what I feel has been a hang-up for some years.
Shakespeare wrote an anti-Semitic play, and that didn’t make him an anti-Semitic. Then why wouldn’t the same apply to me?
Look at MERCHANT OF VENICE and the character Shylock. See the chapter “Dueling Shylocks” in Ron Rosenbaum’s book THE SHAKESPEARE WARS. Rosenbaum points out that “Hitler and Goebbels were not somehow deluded when the Nazis sponsored no less that fifty productions of the play during the Third Reich.”
I’m not a bigot or anti-Semitic! I know I’m not. It’s astonishing, however, that I find myself on the defensive and that I have questioned it. But I’m also admitting, openly, that that as a boy, growing up in Irving Texas, I participated in racial activities that I am ashamed of and to date haven’t explored in my writing. That explains why I felt the urge to write this blog. And why I wrote THE GOOD OL’ BOYS. It perhaps also explains why I invested so much time in writing the novel GOOD PEOPLE and so quickly picked it up again after Matt Freese challenged me to do so.
Thank you Matt, Randy Ford