2014 Spring Issue 4 (May 2, 2014)
Late Tuesday night while avoiding studying for a geology midterm, I found myself on a site called www.checkmyprivilege.com. Driven by curiosity and the insatiable human drive to procrastinate, I clicked on a link to a quiz to see how my privilege added up.
I think anger is overrated. My original intention for this article was to insult Macalester College’s recent list of “offensive” words. I was going to go through each word that they deemed offensive and decide whether it was offensive or not.
One article on Forbes on April 13th made me very disturbed. It reported that Mayer Brown, one of the top 20 U.S. law firms, filed a suit on behalf of two Japanese Americans against a recently established Korean “comfort women” memorial in Glendale, California.
From my friends at Carleton who know about my restaurant column, the number one comment I received was: “you absolutely have to go to Tacoasis!” I was shocked at the pent-up demand among Carls for reliable gastronomic advice on Tacoasis.
I had a lot of expectations about how returning to the wilderness was going to give me space to think. Looking back through the journal I kept in the Canyon, I found that I wrote mostly personal reflections, and I think I did come away with several important personal realizations.
On our last day in Grand Canyon National Park, I rode the bus from Maswik Lodge, our hotel in the South Rim Village, to the post office. It was late afternoon and the bus compartment was packed with visitors, their faces red from the Arizona sun and their sweaty arms side-by-side.
Before January, I had not thought very deeply about what wilderness was, or how we treat it. My family did not camp regularly, but I attended fieldtrips with elementary school to places like the International Crane Foundation and water treatment plant, and went on a few trips with friends’ families.
I found this experience to be incredibly meaningful in a variety of ways, some of which are personal and some of which are more closely linked to the intellectual debate surrounding wilderness.
“We have failed. Nearly two hundred-thirty-eight years later, we have failed.” This is a refrain accompanied by the snide “No kidding” across the nation.
Grade school education did a decent job of shining a light on eras in our nation’s history when minorities were systematically and cruelly mistreated: we saw dramatizations of the Trail of Tears, pictures of internment during World War II, History channel Holocaust films and, of course, clip after clip of Bull Connor, fire hoses, bus boycotts and “I Have a Dream.”