Home > Uncategorized > “We didn’t need you.”

“We didn’t need you.”

As many of the blog posts have mentioned, we had an interesting discussion in class today that explored and problematized Galland’s white privilege, and her treatment of it in Love Cemetery. Rather than reiterate many of the concerns many of us voiced this morning, I’d like to look at a specific quote that was discussed, and try to unpack it a bit more than we had a chance to. I didn’t speak up during class, but the ideas that were budding in my brain this morning have had a chance to stew a little bit, and I feel like I now have more to say.

The third quotation that was pulled out for class today, when Doris begins to challenge Galland, haunted me. I feel like there was more behind what she said than one might initially read, and possibly more than we discussed in class. It seems to me that Doris could have been reacting out of fear and anger, and that her sentiments were more heated than rational. But it could be valuable to approach an interpretation of her words from a completely different angle.

My reading of this passage is not one of reactive anger, but rather solemnity and honesty. I was struck especially by her comment, “We didn’t need you.” I imagine Doris saying this to Galland in a calm, matter-of-fact way, rather than as an acidic offhand remark. White privilege is an enormous presence in Galland’s novel, and it seems that this is one of the moments in which it is brought bluntly to light. My understanding of Doris’ comment is that she sought to remind Galland of her own white privilege. It seems that Doris herself was reminded of just that when she heard Galland’s voicemail, and she had no qualms about becoming a mirror for Galland — reflecting back to Galland the truth that she was a part of the system of white privilege, and that in that moment, she seemed to have lost sight of that. I don’t imagine that Doris wanted to exclude Galland from further participation in the project, but it seems as though she felt it necessary to provide Galland with a crucial piece of perspective — that Galland was a servant to the community members she interacted with, that she was there to offer her services and not to offer the Rescuing Hand of White Power.

I would say that Doris was absolutely the voice of reason in this situation. I think she aimed to get the project back on track, and to shift Galland’s mindset in order to bring her back to the heart of their mission, which was personal, community-based, and organic.

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