One of the most difficult discussions to have is one about race. We currently live in a racially charged society. It is difficult to analyze situations and deduce whether or not race was a motivating factor. Recently there have been several stories in the news about whites calling the police on blacks. A woman called the police on a black family barbecuing in a park in an area where barbecuing was prohibited. Another woman called the police on an 8 year old girl selling water in front of her apartment building, citing the fact that the little girl did not have a permit to sell the water. These women have become infamous, the first being dubbed “BBQ Becky” and the latter, “Permit Patty”.
The question has been posed, would these women have done the same thing if the people committing these “offenses were white? The problem with questions of racial discrimination is that there is a very good chance that we will never know. Jodi Picoult, best selling author, made a decision to write a book about race. Small Great Things touches on topics of white supremacy, racism, bigotry, and the negative effects these can have on a person of color. In this case an African American nurse.
Although it is difficult to prove racism as the driving force of someone’s actions against a black person, or a person of any race for that matter, it is important to understand that these types of incidents do occur. Unfortunately, they probably occur a lot more often than we realize.
Picoult’s excellent storytelling digs deep into the world of white supremacy. Her purpose in writing this book is to highlight that although it is easy to identify the skinhead with the swastika tattoo on his bald head who brandishes a Confederate flag as being racist, it is not so easy to identify those who do not have these stereotypical markers. And what about those that would not even consider themselves racist? Those are the people that she intends to reach and she does an amazing job doing so. She wants to show them that it is important to recognize the racism within themselves and then to work towards changing those seemingly unintentional beliefs. Whether you’ve read other novels by this phenomenal author or this is your first, you will not be disappointed.
Picoult, Jodi. Small Great Things. New York: Ballentine Books, 2016.