Race, Wendell Berry, & Asking: What Color Is Your Wound?

Merle Haggard tells of how the only time he had trouble getting a song released was “Irma Jackson” because Ken Nelson (at Capitol Records)said, “I don’t know if they will let us do that. I don’t know if the big wigs will let us put that out because it’s about a black woman.” Hearing him tell this story on “Walking The Floor” reminded me how far we’ve come and how far we have to go when it comes to skin color in America. And this was before the events in Charlottesville, VA.

It caught my attention, more than likely because my wife and I had recently watched “Hidden Figures” — the film about the black women who were integral to the space program and getting America to the moon. I grew up around the space program in Houston. Meeting Alan Shepherd, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and so many of the first astronauts was such a common experience as to seem far from extraordinary…and, yet, still pretty damn cool. But I grew up white, never knowing about these brilliant women who helped get them into space, likely, because…they weren’t white. 


Kendall RuthComment