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  • Writer's pictureToby

Richlin's Arguments with Silence

Over the weekend I finished Amy Richlin's Arguments with Silence. My wife took a class of hers in college and said it was life changing. The book itself is as much a dialogue as it is an academic treatment of women in the classics. I thoroughly appreciated the challenges Richlin brought to our modern understanding of history. History is told by certain people and often leaves much out. Who is telling the story, and what they decided to exclude, says much about the story of oppression.

I've thought about creating an epic multi-era novel that encompasses the Grand Derangement of the Acadian people, their landing in Louisiana, and modern day Cajuns (think Cloud Atlas-ish). I would want to represent the Mi'maq people, who were neighbors and family to the Acadians, as well as the BIPOC people of Louisiana, with pride and respect. But when I look for their perspectives, many lost to time, their voices are left out of history and literature almost completely.

This post ends up being a lament for all of the lost stories, lost identities, that come from oppression of people. How incomplete, no ignorant. our understanding becomes from us doing this. How much everyone, including the oppressor, loses when we can't be honest about where we've been and what we've done. How much beauty and strength is lost when along the way we decided it is irrelevant. Forward movement without appreciation is not progress, but destruction.

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