Food for Thought Media: Podcast
When you look at the coronavirus world, it is entirely shaped by the structure of the before world. All of the racial inequities that were in the before world, they are naturally being reproduced in the coronavirus world because the structure of our society was built along those tracks. You can put a new train on it; you can send everybody $1,200; you can try to put out $600 million for small businesses. But because the train is going to go to the same destinations, you’re going to have 90 percent of black and Hispanic small businesses being denied loans. You’re going to have a disproportionate number of workers in service and health-care industries being black and Hispanic people. The train is going to go to the same destination no matter how new and shiny it is, because that’s where the tracks are built to go.
Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.