Somehow, this came out of our senior discussions prior to reading The Scarlet Letter (my favorite fairy tale).

The Colonials had to band together in communities for safety and short-term livability. Eighty-five percent of European colonists died in the first 75 years of colonization; a similar number of indigenous people died from European diseases and mistreatment during that same time. (Admittedly, my numbers may be a little off, but it’s what I remember from a Bill Bryson book).

In the same way that Arthur Miller couldn’t talk about The Red Scare and the dangers of Joseph McCarthy, Hawthorne couldn’t talk about “the other” in the context of slavery or the rampant hypocrisy within religion and politics.

Today, when we have Native Americans protesting on their sovereign land to stop the US government from laying a pipeline across their territory, when we have #BlackLivesMatter in response to ongoing racism, when we have students who hear racial slurs directed at them in high school hallways, we have to look at the history of our country and its treatment of immigrants, the descendants of slaves, women, and children to understand the anger and hurt some groups carry from generation to generation and the fears that spawns.

The Scarlet Letter is about how people are shoved into the “other” category by people who don’t really have any room to judge them.


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