“Canceling” the Sacred Little Things

To cease the publication of a children’s book:

Is not quite like the cutting of a queue or a braid. 

Or the razing of a burial site.

Or the sundering of a family.

Or the banning of a language.

Or the plundering of a forest.

Or the leveling of a mountain.

All of these things, cancelled. 

I think some white Christians aren’t used to being told that the things they hold sacred aren’t so sacred. And maybe it’s terrifying to find out that the things that formed you aren’t infallible.

Some of us start life “cancelled” by our zip codes or our bodies. Wasn’t I “cancelled” by the Christians who preferred me before I came out? Isn’t my Asian heritage “cancelled” yet again by those who are drunk on white supremacy? All this: it’s not quite like ceasing the publication of a children’s book.

Perhaps if we’re offended that all our sacred things are now under scrutiny, we have too many sacred things. A quick glance over our internal curio cabinets reveals a bevy of fools’-gold calves. Sacred little things we couldn’t stand to admit are tarnished, because what would that say about their collectors?

Generals are just people.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just a movie.

Oreos are just cookies.

Dr. Seuss is just an author.

It might feel unmooring to know that some of your children’s books and childhood heroes are tainted with racism. As though to concede that means that you were taught racism. As though to have loved them requires self-reflection and the pain of wrestling with the very milk that made you. As though to have passed them on requires looking deep into the well from which you fed your children.

And if that’s how it feels, then you are so close – so close – to the point.

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