Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Roger Ebert Blog Essay on Race & Racism

Great great piece from Roger Ebert on racism. Titled "How do they get to be that way?" the essay focuses first on the mural flap in Prescott, AZ and then goes wider to the experiences of Ebert himself with race.

I liked Ebert quite a bit after reading this Esquire profile of him (which I posted about here) and am glad that someone was good enough to link to Ebert's essay via Facebook so I could read it.

I've written about this a bit on this blog (most recently in this post about a Charles P. Pierce SI story), but the thing that really strikes me in writing is when an author can combine together great content and great writing.

Great content can be about something important (as Ebert's racism piece is), something interesting (as is the Pierce piece) or something profound (as is the Chris Jones story about fallen American soldiers returning home).

Great writing, however, is in how it's delivered to the reader. To this point, Ebert's writing on racism and his own experiences with race struck me as almost lyrical in his choice of words and phrasing. Sometimes I read a piece like this and am torn between being inspired to try to reach that level of prose and deflated in feeling I never could. Course, I then tend to "reinflate" when I think about all the bad writing out there and how I can do better than that.

All this said, just a great story by Ebert that can be best summed up in this quote from it...

"I believe at some point in the development of healthy people there must come a time when we instinctively try to understand how others feel. We may not succeed. There are many people in this world today who remain enigmas to me, and some who are offensive. But that is not because of their race. It is usually because of their beliefs."