Not to bore you with details, but a large thematic component of my novel in progress is based on family lore.
As part of my research I’ve signed up for one of those analyze your DNA/create your family tree websites.
Quick side note: My wife is a fan of the various TV shows—Who Do You Think You Are, Finding Your Roots—that traverse this same territory with well known actors, politicians, journalists, academics. I’ve watched several episodes, and while I get the intrigue, the discoveries hadn’t up to the past couple weeks scored an emotional hit.
Fast forward to now and my own revelations about the various family and DNA components that brought me here. I’m struck by the many, many stories that are knitted in my chromosomal past.
I’ve had to confess to my wife that I better understand the appeal of her favorites shows.
Another quick side note: Many of my ancestors were scrappers and farmers who fought for whatever necessities and comforts they could. I was part of the first generation to go to college, and I didn’t realize what a monumental feat that was based on my history. I took it for granted.
Looking over that familial history, it’s very difficult to shake the evidence - social class was destiny. Opportunities were scant. Education was always the one societal mechanism for potentially pushing that destiny aside. Many in my background didn’t or couldn’t use that mechanism.
Which leads me to my reaction about the college admissions scandal revealed this week. This is a class issue. It’s disgusting, it’s cynical and it’s ultimately not surprising. There are many others who have worked harder and suffered more for the their college educations than I have, so I won’t go there, but the audacity of entitlement that this scandal (which I’m sure has just barely begun to reveal itself) has exposed underscores what we all know and live:
There are those with means—those who have always had means—and there are the many who have to pick their way through corrupt systems and do their best to survive with whatever tools they have available to them.
Here’s to the scrappers.