Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

02 Aug 2013, 20:28 p.m.

I Don't Understand; You Must Be To Blame

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2013 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

My friend Jelani Cobb talks about how the literature of slavemasters is filled with exasperation over their slaves laughing at invisible jokes. So from time to time you will see people come here and say, "Don't you ever write about something other than race?" I do. But that's beside the point. What they're really saying is, "Will you please stop speaking in a language which I must struggle to understand?"

Eight years ago someone wrote to me after I'd written a few columns about Indian or Indian-American stuff, saying that all I wrote about was "not being white." Yes, she actually said that. It's nice to finally understand how pitiable that is.