Culture and Society
We were born in Michigan. We were born in California. We were born in Italy. We were born in Florida, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Canada. We grew up with money. We grew up on food stamps. We grew up with enough money to buy food but not enough to forget what every mouthful was costing our parents. We ate whatever they put in front of us. We had to be bribed and cajoled.
Chuck Collins On How Wealth Divides Us
As we divide into affluent and poor enclaves, people’s sense that they share a common destiny withers, replaced by fear, misunderstanding, and class and racial antagonisms.
We were losing parts of ourselves. A reporter discovered a trove of ears in a burlap sack. The leader said the papers were lying, and we weren’t sure what was rumor and what was fact. What happened to me, what happened to my neighbors — that wasn’t enough proof of all we had lost.
The first time someone told me I looked like Anne Frank was also the first conversation I had about pubic hair. Now, of course it’s possible the two topics weren’t actually discussed back to back and my subconscious simply saw an opening one night while I was asleep and stitched the two memories together.
The [prison] system does everything within its power to sever any physical or emotional links you have to anyone in the outside world. They want your children to grow up without ever knowing you. They want your spouse to forget your face and start a new life. They want you to sit alone, grieving, in a concrete box, unable even to say your last farewell at a parent’s funeral.
I was never able to answer my mother when she asked how her Holocaust experience had affected me. And she deserves my good-faith attempt, albeit these many years late.