From Endurance to Dressage
I just finished the book American Dirt. It was fabulous. At the end, I wondered why I had bought it as it wasn't the type of book I typically read, so I did a quick search on Google to see what the reviews said. I never buy a book without a solid 4.5 rating, and it has to have an 80% or higher combination of four and five star reviews. If I am going to spend hours and hours on a book, it needs to be worth my time. I have so many books queued up in my Kindle that it might be months or longer before I get to one, so by the time I get to it, I usually can't remember what it's even about. Since I know that I only buy books that are highly reviewed, it doesn't mater; I read it anyway.
I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction though. I tend towards "classics" and things written in the mid-twentieth century. Don't ask me why because half that stuff was written by druggies, fruit loops, and authors exploring either transcendentalism or intellectualism. Not really, I made that stuff up, but it's kind of true. Albert Camus's, The Stranger, was a book I read very recently, and apparently the first three words (translated from the French), Mother died today, have created a controversy that has lasted almost a hundred years. See what I mean?
So what did I find when I looked up American Dirt? This article. Holy cow has this book created a shit storm of controversy - pardon the language, but it expresses my sentiments better than any other phrase. Before even contemplating the article, you should first know what the book is about, so here goes:
A Mexican woman's husband is a journalist who writes about the drug cartels in Mexico. The woman owns a book shop where a new customer becomes a dear friend. Her husband ultimately reveals that said friend is the new cartel's leader. Husband publishes an article, and in retribution, the drug lord murders her entire family, but she and her young son manage to escape. For the rest of the book, she and her son become migrants fleeing the drug lord. Knowing that he is powerful, she flees with their life savings, avoiding all transportation requiring identification and possible roadblocks. Along the way, she and her son are robbed and kidnapped. They also meet and travel with other migrants whose experiences are often times worse than their own. Eventually, she arranges with a coyote for passage across the border where she and the others in her group experience an arduous and terrifying trek through the desert in an effort to get to the USA.
What could be so controversial about that? Read the above article if you're interested, but it boils down to this: the author took incredible criticism for daring to write from the perspective of a culture that is not her own. This article delves deeper into that idea. Essentially, writing about a viewpoint that is not your own is being called appropriation. If you're white, you don't have permission to write a non-white woman's story. If you're straight, you don't have permission to write about a gay person's story. If you're a man, you can't write about a woman.
I can't even tell you how angry that idea makes me. Just this week, my class started writing a narrative based on a fictional story we had read about the Berlin Wall. In preparation, we also learned about the Great Wall of China and Hadrian's Wall in Great Britain. I instructed my students to write a story where one of those walls provided the setting. The kids were supposed to choose characters from that time who were either escaping the wall (East Berlin), building the wall (China), or guarding the wall (Roman Empire). Of course they could choose a different scenario, but it needed to work in that setting and time.
Are my students "appropriating" cold war culture or Chinese culture or Roman culture because they're not from East Berlin or China or Scotland? Isn't that what makes fiction, fiction? Are we no longer permitted to imagine what it's like to be someone else? Are we no longer allowed to walk in someone else's shoes even if only metaphorically? How are we to develop empathy if we don't try to see the world through someone else's eyes? When my class discussed this yesterday, one of my students remarked, "it's like saying we can't write about furniture because we're NOT furniture."
From the mouths of babes comes truth or wisdom.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: