Historic injustices

Last night, after reading this blogpost,I decided to take a look at my bookshelves, to see what unread books I had there. I should add that I do not really have a good sense of my personal library these days, partially because my book shelves are filled with books I have taken out of the library for my dissertation research, and partially because at least half of my personal books are still in my cousin's garage in Sandgerdi. I also lost quite a number of my books during the great shipping fiasco of 2009.

But since I have gotten here to Berkeley, I have acquired a few books, other than the one's I checked out, without thinking too much about it. There is a "free book" table at my department, and I guess at some point in time I took from that table a Norwegian translation of Juan Carlos. I was just about to plop down on the couch and start reading that, when I noticed another unread book on my shelf, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. If I recall correctly, we watched the Henry Fonda movie in highschool, and perhaps we were also supposed to read the book, but I hadn't. (I have always thought of myself as more of an author than a reader, truth be told.)

So I started reading that last night, which is I think the first non-dissertation or teaching related book I have read in probably two years. And I only have this one because the guy who had vacated the apartment I had in Berkeley left behind a bunch of his books, and the cleaning people had decided not to throw them away.  (I never buy books at a bookstore). So I took The Grapes of Wrath from that collection, gave my brother and mom some of the other titles, and then left the rest for the next tenants of the apartment when I vacated.

I was thinking about the title this morning driving over to Palmer's house, wondering what the publisher thought when they first got the manuscript, because it is an odd title. But I think what it refers to is the biblical adage, about reaping what you sow. When there is such a long history of injustice and hardship, the fruits will reflect what stuff it came from.

And this got me thinking about other historic injustices, like women not being allowed to vote. Because it is not that women were not voting that was the problem--indeed there were plenty of women who were not interested in voting--it was that they were not allowed to vote that was the injustice. It took years for the percentage of women voters to come close to equaling male voters, but that process never would have begun if the first step of taking away the legal blocks to a potential avenue of expression were not first removed.

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