The “Claiming Distant Ancestry” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Lucky you.

S2: Your freedom, your prudence, your prudence, your prudence here. Do you think that I should contact him again? No. How thank thank. Thank you.

S1: Hello and welcome back to the Dear Prudence podcast once again, and as always, I am your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel M. Lavery. With me in the studio this week is my good friend Harry Eskin, a moving image archivist based in Los Angeles. Harry, welcome to the show.

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S3: Thank you so much, Danny. It’s it’s great to be on. Thank you again for having me.

S1: I’m so pleased to have you here. I do wish that I could have gotten more questions that had to do with, I don’t know, little known TV shows about Lancelot from the 1950s, because that’s often one of the most sort of productive kind of conversations you and I get to have is about whatever it is that you’re archiving in any given week. Didn’t work out that way, though, I’m afraid, unfortunately.

S3: But you know, such as life, as I say.

S1: Yeah, I’m definitely going to save any archive related questions for you in the future. And actually, if anyone listening to this is an archivist of any kind with archive related questions, please feel free to write in. But in the meantime, I’m thrilled to have you here. I’m thrilled to get your thoughts. And I would love for you to read our first letter, OK?

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S3: Am I a Rachel Dolezal? Dear Prudence, my mother raised me to be extremely proud of her family’s Mexican heritage. When we watch the Mexican soccer team play, she would remind my siblings and me that we were part Mexican and we would celebrate national holidays with extra enthusiasm. I had a concern, Naarah. The thing is, my mother’s Mexican heritage comes only from her great grandmother, so mine feels pretty theoretical. After leaving home, I still hadn’t really thought carefully about this and sometimes described myself as part Latino or used. I’m not as white as I look sometimes alongside my also distant Japanese ancestry as an icebreaker. I cringe so much when I think about it. Now I am a white girl with trace ancestry. I’ve never denied having white privilege, but I’ve still claimed something that isn’t really mine. My question is how should I address this now that I know better? Should I apologize to people I remember having these conversations with or just figure the damage is done and I know better now.

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S1: I think the place that I wanted to start with this one is to try to put a little bit of distance in between a couple of the terms that I think her letter writer has used sort of interchangeably, which is to say it is possible to be both white and Mexican. It is possible to be white and Latina. There are white Latino people. So I don’t want the letter writer to feel like those are terms that are interchangeable with person of color, which is not necessarily going to change lots about the answer, just that I don’t know what the story is with your mom’s great grandmother, whether she herself was also white. But I do understand that your sort of question has to do with I have been talking about, you know, a distant ancestor in a way that I no longer want to talk about in a way that I now realize was a sort of attempt for me to to suggest in conversations or go so far as to claim like I’m not actually white. That’s the thing that you want to stop doing. That’s the thing that you want to consider apologizing for. That makes a lot of sense. But just again, Mexican does not necessarily mean not white.

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S3: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. I would agree.

S1: You know, the question of do I apologize to people I remember having these conversations with? I think it’s something that the letter writer should certainly consider, you don’t have to, and I think you shouldn’t make a big emotional mea culpa and overload people with, like, this huge set of feelings about your family or how you think about yourself. But certainly if you’re still friends with people that you have used, you used to say, I’m not as white as I look to. Yes, I do think both. It would be good for them to hear that from you and it would be good for you to say it.

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S3: Yeah, I agree. I think they it’s it’s worthwhile following the general rule of thumb of. You know, if you realize things that you’ve done in the past that you regret and that probably you should apologize for, it’s definitely worth considering, you know, among the list of people who you’re considering apologizing to, just whether it wouldn’t be awkward to approach them in any case, regardless of the subject of what you’re apologizing for. You know, if it’s something that you did a long time ago to someone you’re not really in contact with now, then obviously it’s probably not a great idea to call up that person to apologize. But as you said, Dan, if you know, if it’s someone that you’re still close to, that you realize that you, you know, at least an explanation for your behavior, then. Yeah, it’s definitely worth bringing up.

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S1: Yeah. And again, so one rule here I think that will be useful is to think, you know, are we still in contact? So if this is somebody that you used to occasionally talk to in passing in college but haven’t spoken to in 10 years, probably you don’t need to reach out solely because I think it would feel a little baffling for them and might potentially make their day a little stranger and trickier. But if these are people you’re close to. Yeah. And you don’t need to offer, I think, a significant explanation or sort of go into a lot of the detail you’ve shared here, again, because your goal here is to assure other people that you have a different approach to discussing questions of race and ethnicity in the future and that you’re not going to bring a lot of, like, weird energy to it. So you do want to keep it slightly brief and just say, I don’t know if you remember this, but there have been times in past conversations where I’ve used the fact that my mother’s great grandmother was Mexican as a way to say I’m not actually white. That was wrong. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry, I won’t do that again. That should be roughly as long as you talk when you sort of say if your friends have something they want to say to you about it or a question they want to ask you to leave room for that. But you don’t need to go into, I think, this long, long, long discussion about like and here’s how my mother grew up and here’s what I think she might have been thinking. That is too much energy to bring. Sorry. Not going to do that again.

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S3: Yeah, that strikes me as a very tactful approach. And, you know, not not going into an overly dramatic monologue or anything awkward like that. But as you said, just to say what you need to say and leave room for anything that the person needs to say to you.

S1: Yeah. And then beyond that, you know, you and your siblings and your mom enjoyed, like rooting for the Mexican national soccer team during soccer. I almost said monuments. I don’t know much about sports. I’m sorry. Tournament’s, I think, was the phrase I was looking for. That’s fine. You know, talking about national holidays, again, you don’t need to say like those were wrong things that we necessarily did or, you know, I should never think about that particular relative. Like, that’s not wrong. You are allowed to think with curiosity about that distant ancestor and to, you know, feel a sense of enjoyment from watching the national football team play. That is fine. You don’t need to not do that. You don’t need to apologize for that. The stuff where you would say, you know, I’m not as white as I look or, you know, attempting to play something up in order to get what you thought would have. I don’t know what you thought you were getting out of those moments. It was something special. If you enjoyed subverting expectations, if you wanted to, whatever it was you were looking for in those moments, you can commit to not doing that without saying. And the next time that there’s a World Cup I’m not allowed to watch.

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S3: No, I mean, soccer is a pretty innocuous thing.

S1: Yeah. And, you know, if you also want to talk to your siblings about some of this, if you’re kind of curious about what they think about it, if you want to ask your mom questions about it, I don’t know. You don’t you don’t say much about, like, whether or not your mom talked about that particular ancestor of hers as a way to obfuscate or mediate her own possible relationships to whiteness. So I don’t know if that’s something that you want to talk about with her or maybe it was something that you came up with external of her. But those are all possibilities, too. You can discuss this. You can ask questions. It’s not forbidden or off topic within your own family as you sort of reassess how you want to talk about this.

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S3: Yeah, it’s important to point out the most appropriate avenues for these conversations, which, as you made clear, are quite necessary.

S1: Yeah, and I do think that’s where you will have more of an opportunity to have the sort of longer conversations to talk about your own feelings. A little bit more is within your family because that’s where it originated. And those are not, you know, potentially like long, distant friends who might feel overburdened or annoyed by having to hear like that would be an appropriate context in which to do the longer version of this conversation. As for your friends, yeah, as a rule of thumb, if you haven’t spoken in six years, probably they don’t need you to call and say this. If you are in some contact, you can do a relatively brief apology and an explanation of I’m not going to do that again, and that’s fine, I think that’s it. I think you’re right to not say, you know, I’m not as, quote, white as I look. I think you can do that without disavowing your great great grandmother. I think that’s a good call. I think you should stop or rather, I’m glad you have already stopped and that you want to rethink it. This one’s mine. To read the subject line here is how to discuss childhood neglect with a parent. Dear Prudence, I grew up in a household with an abusive father, but I was the only one he didn’t target. He favored me, but treated my siblings health issues and personality as their personal failings. My mother used to either avoid me or use me as a distraction for my father in an effort to protect and tend to my siblings needs. My father died years ago, but I have trouble accepting my mother’s avoidance during my childhood. My sibling has never liked me and treats me like a bother. I have anxiety around the idea that I actually am bothersome and recently attempted to discuss my mother’s actions with her. But she is defensive. Quote, You weren’t in danger like us. I may never get along with my sibling, but I do otherwise have a loving relationship with my mother. I’m unsure how to have productive discussions with my mom about what I feel was neglect those years ago. What should I do? I just want some sort of acknowledgement that the hurt I feel is real and important. I have a question I couldn’t quite land on this as I was reading this letter. Did you take that quote? You weren’t in danger like us as having come from the mother or as having come from the sibling?

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S3: The impression I got is that the quote comes from the mother based on the syntax and how it’s structured.

S1: OK, that is helpful to me because if it was from the sibling, I think I would have had a slightly different answer. And that does make sense

S3: because it’s the mother that the letter writer is expressing the actual concern and the actual intention about.

S1: Yeah, I wonder. So I have two sort of contradictory impulses here. One is I want to find ways for the letter writer to have potentially more productive conversations with their mother about this. I want them to be able to give that a try. I think that’s worthwhile. I understand why they want to do that. And then the other is I want the letter writer to. Treat pretty seriously the idea that they might never get from their mother either the affirmation of their own pain as a child that they’re looking for or. Any good answers? And it can be hard to hold those two things in tension, but I do think you should, you know, hope for the best try to engage and then also think, what will I do if I never get that from my mom? Where else can I get that kind of affirmation? Where else can I have these conversations? Who, besides my mom and my sibling, can I turn to for support around this?

S3: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. Obviously, therapy would be a fairly obvious consideration. That’s a that’s definitely a venue where people can be qualified in particular to discuss that specific type of trauma and a venue where, you know, where the whole point is to have these conversations that are necessary toward your healing process, that at least I still hope that what this letter writer hopes for with their mother will happen. But at the very least, to get these conversations going in a helpful and therapeutic environment is important.

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S1: Yeah, because if you know, the the implied thing in the last sentence, I think is I just want some sort of acknowledgement from my mother that the hurt I feel is real and important. And I don’t know that you’ll be able to get that or that you’ll be able to get that in the sort of dosage that would feel meaningful to you. So you can, I think, get that acknowledgement elsewhere. And I encourage you to seek it out both from friends, possibly from a therapist, possibly from support groups, possibly from all of the above. But I cannot guarantee you that even if you ask really well or wait very patiently, that you will get it from your mother. I think that it is both true that your mother was a direct target of your father’s abuse in a way that you weren’t. She was also your parents and you were a child and part of the duties of a parent is to protect and safeguard your child. So for her to say you weren’t in danger like us again, I want to try to thread a careful needle there because your mother was in danger. That’s real. It’s also true that avoiding you and offering you up as a distraction to your father was also itself abusive. And that doesn’t mean that she was abusing you on the same scale that your father was abusing her or your sibling. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t in pretty dire straits. That doesn’t mean that she’s a monster. But unless and until she’s able to have a conversation about your childhood, where she is able to think about the ways in which she was not able to keep you safe in the way that you deserved to be. That’s going to be, I think, an indicator of what you’ll be able to get from her, I think if she can’t do that, she can’t do that. And no amount of persuasion or vulnerability on your end will get her there. Does that make sense?

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S3: That definitely makes sense to me. I would completely agree with that.

S1: And it’s hard because, of course, she’s the person you want it from the most, right? Like she was there. She was the person whose acknowledgement you were seeking that whole time. But it can be very difficult for the people who caused or condoned or enabled or facilitated childhood abuse to ever reckon with it. It’s tough. Yeah, yeah, so, you know, if your mom is defensive, put a button in that, I think go have these conversations elsewhere and gather some of your thoughts. Think about what’s most important to you get get yourself the opportunity, I think, to seek like healing and acknowledgement from other people. And then you might want to you might be in a better position to revisit the conversation and it might feel worthwhile and valuable even if you don’t get the acknowledgement you were hoping for. If you are able to say the things that are most important to you, that have been the most on your mind, that will itself be potentially healing. Important, significant. It’s hard when you want something that makes a lot of sense and the other person is not prepared to give it to you and it’s hard when it’s like your father’s gone. Your mother suffered abuse and was trying to tend to the child who’s endangerment was sort of most critical. She made decisions based on sort of like. It’s like field triage, if that makes sense, the sort of like, well, here’s the biggest wound or here’s the biggest danger. That’s what I have to focus my energy on. But that also caused harm to you, I mean, you should I just want to I think I want to stress that because. You should not have been avoided by one of your parents and then offered up as a distraction to your abusive father to, you know, keep him busy long enough that he wouldn’t abuse your sibling. That’s a very painful situation for you to have been placed in. And you shouldn’t have been. I’m really glad, Harry, that you didn’t take that quote to have come from the sibling, because I think that would have been really worrying if the letter writer was trying to get their sibling to talk to them about their pain, because it’s just like your sibling cannot do that for you.

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S3: Yeah, yeah. Definitely saying that the letter writer was resigned to that. The situation with the sibling being the way it was.

S1: Mm hmm. Yeah. And I have some compassion for your mother’s position because she was in a very difficult one. I guess the last thought I want to leave this letter writer with is your mom feels defensive. And so she needs to think of this in terms of only some of us were in danger. And so I protected the one who was in danger. It might not have been a great situation, but I did what I had to do. And what you’re trying to say is when there is an abusive parent in the home. Everybody’s in danger. That doesn’t mean everyone’s in the same degree of danger or that we can’t acknowledge real differences, but you were not safe in a home where you saw your father abuse your mother and sibling. You were not safe in a home where you did not know when your mother was going to plop you in front of your father and try to distract him from harming your sibling. That was not safe for you. That wasn’t good for you. You deserved better than that. And so even if you can’t right now persuade your mother to understand your perspective, you know, here is some acknowledgement that the hurt that you feel is real and important. You should not have been instrumentalise like that as a child. You deserved a chance to be a child in a house where there was safety. And you deserve now as an adult, the chance to process and think about these things on your own without always kind of going to. But my mother and my siblings suffered more. So my suffering doesn’t count, you know, you deserve that space in your own life to think about the ways that you suffered. Independent of the suffering of others.

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S3: Absolutely, I I really hope you find the healing that you need.

S1: Yeah, I do too. I’m glad at least you feel like you have some distance with your sibling and that you understand that that’s probably not ever going to be a really close relationship and that you can respect your siblings need for distance I think is a good thing. All right, this next letter is all you take it away.

S3: The subject is costume ruining career prospects. Dear Prudence, in 2008, I attended a gala Thanksgiving party for a charity event overseas. I was twenty three and the other members were much older. When I arrived, one of the lead club members asked me to wear a Native American costume to make the party more fun and American for the guests. There were some other Americans, mostly white and black, in attendance, I agreed and ended up taking photos with some of the guests, all of the club members and guests seemed to enjoy it. I wish I could say why I said yes at the time when the leader asked me I wanted to be a team player and didn’t think about the insensitivity and disrespect of such a costume. I think I should have known and done better anyways. A few years later, when the question of racist Halloween costumes seemed to come up more frequently in public conversation, I thought more about that party, realized how wrongly I’d acted and resolved never to do it again. I didn’t think to write anything formal or public in the way of an apology and only have one private social media page at the same time. I’ve seen the effects that social media lead pushes have had on both public and private people. Alexei Maqam and being a recent example, should I write a preemptive apology on, say, my LinkedIn profile, or is that drawing unnecessary attention to my employer? I know the most important thing is to never do this again and to make sure that I speak up if I see racism in the workplace. But I’m worried this might surface again, although I don’t really know how it would at this stage and ruin my future job prospects.

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S1: I think it’s interesting that we’ve had two different letters today with somebody kind of attempting to reckon with something that they’ve done in the past, that they now understand more thoroughly why it was wrong, why it was racist. And then also, what do I do now that I realized that that was wrong? And how do I deal with that part of me that feels like I’ll never be able to be anything other than the version of myself when I did that and that anything that might look like pushing back against that, anyone who might have a problem with it, anyone who might want to, like, ask for some kind of consequences or accountability would just open up, kind of like a hole in the ground underneath me. And it would just be like, I’m bad. Everyone’s going to reject me, I’ll lose my job. There’s a sort of like missing sense of scale in both of them, if that makes sense, where it’s like, I don’t know how I can appropriately acknowledge this because I worry that if I do, no one will ever want to stop punishing me or I’ll never stop being embarrassed when in actuality, I think in both cases. You’ve done good reflection, it’s good to acknowledge that you did something wrong. It would have been better not to do it. But since that’s not possible, the best possible thing now is to acknowledge it was wrong. So I think my sort of beginning is simply to say I think some of what you’re afraid of is, in fact, the most important thing. You know, the fact that you feel bad, the fact that you wish you hadn’t done it, the fact that you think honestly, you know, if I’m really, really being true, you know, if I’m really speaking honestly here, I should have known I should have not done it in the first place. I did know that it was wrong. I just was flustered and I wanted to go along to get along and I wanted to impress people. And so I did something that I knew was wrong and I wish I hadn’t. That’s that’s good that you have that awareness. That’s a good thing. I don’t think you should fear it in quite the way that you do, if that makes sense.

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S3: Yeah, I think the letter writer has, as you said, clearly done a lot of work reflecting. And owning up to past behavior, I don’t think it would be wise to make any sort of public admission now because I think that would sort of turn the problem into into a vicious cycle sort of thing. It would exacerbate the issues that you’re worried about. I think the important thing, in my opinion, is at least to yourself and to the people who know about it, owning up to it, acknowledging that you understand that what you did was wrong and. If somehow the evidence ever comes up just to to be firm in that stance, I understand I understand what I did. I understand that what I did was wrong and I can’t undo what I did. But my stance is clear on this issue that that what I did was wrong.

S1: Yeah, I think that that’s the key here is like, how do you grapple with something that you did wrong that’s not just about boy, I hope nobody ever finds out about it or I’m going to put it on top of my resume on LinkedIn. And I understand that when we first begin sometimes to reckon with something that we’re ashamed of, something that was wrong, something we want to try to make amends for, but also know that we can’t undo people, sometimes we’ll kind of waffle in between those two big options. You know, one is just clamp it down, try not to think about it, feel a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, wish that I could just erase it from my memory. Hope no one ever knows that’s the best way forward for me, even though then I sort of secretly think if people really knew this about me, no one would want to help me. They would want me to have a career. I would be bereft. I would be cut off from, you know, anything that was meaningful to me. Or on the other hand, maybe I should just, like, trumpet it from the mountains because then at least I would feel better. I wouldn’t feel like when’s the next shoe to drop, even though such an announcement would potentially cause, like, really unnecessary distress, for example, to any friends of color or colleagues of color, particularly Native American friends or colleagues who might see that like with no warning on the top of your resume. So I think what’s needed here is a sense of scale. So, two, to wit, I think I get that Aleksi McCalman, who for for listeners who may not be familiar with briefly earlier this year, is slated to take over as editor in chief at Teen Vogue. And then in addition to a number of tweets from, I think around twenty twelve, twenty thirteen, some of which were Asians, which were, I don’t know, actually beyond that. So I don’t want to make any claims. But like other tweets that were dehumanizing to various groups of people, in addition to that, the staff was also had concerns and that the entire staff came, came to management, said we’re not prepared to work with her. She ultimately resigned and didn’t take the job. I I think somebody who was slated to become the editor in chief of Teen Vogue is in a pretty unique position. And so I think if part of you is thinking that’s going to happen to me as high profile as that might have been. That’s not happening on a daily basis, you know, it’s a little bit I don’t want to say it’s like getting struck by lightning, but I think that level of national attention and pretty dramatic, like hiring and then just kidding, not hiring is is unlikely to take place at the scale, for example, that it could. Does that make sense? Like, that’s a that’s a pretty dramatic situation. I don’t think that that’s. Going to happen to you, even though it might feel like, wow, that was a huge story, I bet that I bet I’m next. Does that make sense?

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S3: That that makes total sense to me? I agree. Like you said. You know, very few people are in as public facing a position as the prospective future editor in chief of Teen Vogue.

S1: Yeah, here’s here’s what I think is sort of like my last thought here. One is there is something concrete that you can do that has to do with like making a genuine gesture towards. I am investing my time, resources and energy in a different approach to life, which is you may or may not let a writer be familiar with the idea of what’s sometimes referred to as voluntary land taxes. But there are a number of Native American groups in the United States who have foundations set up to receive voluntary land taxes from people who reside on traditional ancestral land that was stolen by the United States government. In the Bay Area where I used to live, there was the Schumi land tax that directly supported a trust led by local native women that had to do with restoring and reclaiming indigenous land. If you go to Native Govco org. There’s a whole section on various organizations that receive voluntary land taxes in different parts of the United States. There’s the honor tax project, which is framed as like a way of, you know, materially recognizing and respecting the sovereignty of native nations. And sometimes I think talked about as like a step beyond something like land acknowledgements, which more more people are doing. It’s been a bigger thing, I think, in places like Canada and Australia and elsewhere, but is becoming a little bit more common in parts of the United States, finding one that might be open near where you live in your actual town, and setting up a monthly a recurring donation, something that you can afford. But that is noticeable. I think that would be useful. I mean, I think that’s useful for everyone, for all of us living on stolen land. But I think particularly because this was specifically something to do that with with treating Native Americans as this sort of fun costume idea. And this has to do with, like, actually acknowledging the things that we owe to native people here in this country right now that’s going to be useful. So give until it hurts a little bit. And that will, I think, start to take some of the sting out of this fear. It’s not going to do everything. But I often think, like if you’re worried about something that you did, money really helps. You know, you can’t buy your way out of a problem and you shouldn’t be able to buy your way out of a problem. But it is a meaningful beginning, I think.

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S3: Yeah, that’s a really great point. And I’m I’m really glad you thought of it and brought it up.

S1: Yeah. You know, I think it can be useful. I think there’s a sort of sense of like, what can I do with shame? I can either try to bury it or I can try to shout it from the rooftops so I can preempt anyone who might get mad at me. And neither of those, I think, work very well. I think the first one makes you feel more isolated and alienated and afraid and like you really don’t deserve anything good that might come your way, which is not a great way for trying to deal with the world. And I think the other outsources a lot of discomfort and attempts to stop other people from potentially getting angry with you when they have every right to. You know, part of the thing that I understand about the LinkedIn is you want to communicate that you regret and repudiate what you did, that, you know, it was racist, that, you know, it was wrong. You know, it was demeaning and you wish you hadn’t done it. But part of what I think it’s also an attempt to do is to forestall anybody else ever saying, you know, it’s good that you’re sorry. You know, I’m glad to hear that you wouldn’t do it again. I’m still angry. I still don’t like that you did that. And you need to be able to find a way to live at peace with yourself. And that also says my own regret and my own commitment to a different way of living cannot take away from other people, especially other Native American people, the right to judge me, to be angry, to have whatever response they might have, you know, independent of my own feelings of regret and shame. So I think do some research on that front set up a recurring donation? It should be something ongoing because this is something that you think about in an ongoing way. And also because, you know, the land continues to not be repatriated, to not be restored. I don’t think LinkedIn is an appropriate place to put that. If you are still in touch with anyone who is, for example, at that gala, that might be an appropriate person to speak to, whether it was the person who asked you to do it, that you might want to say, I look back on that. Not only do I wish you hadn’t asked me to do it, I shouldn’t have said yes. I would not do that again. I regret it. I hope you’re not still doing it now. If you are, you should stop. That’s another real way you could potentially you know, you say the important thing is never to do this again. That might be a front where you actually have some ability to make sure it stops happening. So that’s a real opportunity to seek that out, because I think the more you seek out those opportunities, inappropriate, scalable ways that aren’t about just announcing preemptively. The people who might not want to hear about your guilt, it’s going to go a long way towards helping you feel like, OK, I have a sense of who I am, independent of other people’s feelings about me. And I can stand on my own two feet and say, you know, not only am I, like trying to take responsibility for it, I’m looking for ongoing ways to counteract and undo that same kind of harm wherever I find it, because that’s going to give you that sense of here’s where I stand, that you need to deal with somebody else being angry with you or potentially experiencing a consequence that you find painful. You need to know who you are and if who you are is seeking out kind of challenging conversations about something I did that embarrassed me, but in a way where I can undo some of it or giving my money and putting that where my mouth is, you will feel more like a full human being and you will feel more like, OK, I can live my life in a way that I can be more proud of now without just either collapsing into shame when I think, no, that was the real me or that was never me. Let’s never think about that again. Shut up. Shut up.

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S3: That’s a perfect way of putting it, owning up to your mistakes in your private life and figuring out.

S1: And in this case, it was a public life, right? Like it was it was galavanting. Oh, yeah.

S3: I mean, the mistake was in public, but in private, you mean in your private life, owning up and figuring out what are the actual constructive material things I can do to help people who actually are affected by this kind of racism that I regret participating in.

S1: Yeah. And, you know, the last thing you know, you say I worry that this might ruin my future job prospects. I realize that I said earlier. I think that that is unlikely. I don’t want to completely discount that. I do think one of the reasons that it’s important to push back a little bit against that idea is it suggests that, generally speaking, like anti Native American racism has negative consequences when historically it hasn’t. You know, like in this country, there still like summer camps, like led and created by white people that have, like, fun, cutesy Native American names. There, you know, was an alternative to the Girl Scouts in the Midwest that was called the quote unquote, Indian princesses that, you know, this stuff is really baked in. And so the idea remember that from growing up. Yeah. The idea that anti Native American prejudice has, like, historically really hurt a lot of, like white people and their career prospects. It’s just not true. White supremacy is a lot more powerful. And it’s a lot I think it’s important here to like weigh the handful of high profile firings from, again, very public, like editor in chief roles of Bon Appetite or at Teen Vogue against. You know, how long, in fact, like a. Native American racism has benefited people at work, so some of I think the fear here is not founded in actual reality, but beyond that, in case it does come up some day and in case it does affect your job prospects, I think, again, you got to fight to be like think about your immortal soul, but think about like what? I feel better if I, like, did everything I could to make sure I still got that job or what I want to be able to say, yes, I did it. I’m very sorry. I shouldn’t have done it. It was wrong. And then let the cards fall where they may. I think that is a lot easier to think about with some sense of self-respect, then. Oh God, I’m sorry, but I also experienced it with some regret. Mistakes were made. I did something that contradicts my values that kind of like corporate H.R. speak that sometimes people do when they’re panicking. That just sounds. Nonsensical, weighed against something like I did it, it was wrong. I knew it was wrong at the time and I did it anyways. I’m sorry. And I shouldn’t have. That is. I think you can hang your hat on that more than you can on something else, and yeah,

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S3: I think this is a matter of doing the right thing, figuring out what exactly the right thing is, while at the same time understanding that ultimately when you’re when you’re thinking about justice, this is about much more than you and your job. Yeah, and your job prospects,

S1: yeah, I think so, and I think it’s useful because when you’re in such a position of yes, it was wrong, but really I’m just so afraid that I might lose out on future job opportunities that I need to prioritize that over my ability to grapple with having done something wrong. That’s really the time when you need to reverse your priorities. Just flip them around and say the ongoing fear and guilt and shame is not something that I can wave away, but it is something that I can really contend with. Beyond that, I can’t manage whether or not I experienced professional consequences. What I can do is find ways to live my life on a new kind of basis and behave in a way that I can be proud of. Now, like, that’s the stuff that’s within your control. Good luck right back. Let us know what land taxes are available in your area and how that goes. There’s real restorative work that you can try to do on that front. So, yeah, there’s so much in this episode today that just has to do with how I think about the past. How do I get answers about the past? How do I try to get other people to think about the past with me? And what do we do if our views of the past don’t coincide? And that can be really hard work? I, I don’t know that I have any big general thoughts other than just. Choose your battles as wisely as possible. Do you have any general thoughts about how do you live in a world where the past exists? Any final words of wisdom?

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S3: I know that’s kind of a big question, but I guess my my main takeaways are honesty, honesty about yourself, about your needs, about your actions and about the consequences of those actions and about what is really important here.

S1: Yeah, it’s really hard to find ways to live honestly with the past while also truly acknowledging our inability to change it. That can be incredibly painful, incredibly difficult. And I wish all of our letter writers a lot of luck as they try to figure out how do I keep going into the future, because that’s the only direction that life goes in now,

S3: unless the thing from Tenet has its way.

S1: Listen, listen. I mean, that was really just the night manager with little time travel thrown in. So I think we got to throw it back to John Le Carre first. Oh, totally. Harry, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I appreciate it so much. And I hope you have a fabulous, fabulous evening.

S3: Oh, thank you. It was a pleasure. I really appreciate your having me on, Danny. Always great to talk to you.

S1: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence, our producer is Phil Cercas. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Had to Slocum’s Dear Prudence to subscribe and remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus go to Slate Dotcom Prudy Pod to sign up. If you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message for zero one three seven one dear. That’s three three two seven. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short. Thirty seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening. And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. You know, letter writer, you say that your husband hates how your parents think about parenting, you say that they hate how permissive he is with your kid. And then, you know, you do say they’re easier to live with. They do more around the house. Do you think your husband’s too permissive with the kid? Because that feels like you really need to identify where you fall on that before you start having these conversations? Because, you know, there’s certainly the implied issue around like housework. It feels pretty straightforward that you you side with your parents. And maybe part of the fear there is if my husband is already feeling defensive and then if I were to say, I also wish that you did more around the house, I also wish that you picked up after yourself. I don’t like that my mother picks up after you. It makes me annoyed with you, embarrassed by you, whatever else it might bring up. You know, if you feel like you’re holding back these things on your own behalf because you just feel like there’s already too much conflict in my job is to take it down. I don’t think that that’s going to be the right place to start, even though I do think it is possible for you all to try to scale down some of the level of conflict. It can’t start by you pretending not to care about things you care about. And it can’t start by you pretending to agree with your husband because you think you owe him loyalty or you think he’s going to lash out and get defensive. To listen to the rest of that conversation, join Slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash pretty pot.