What to do with racism in novels

The Last of the Mohicans. A tale of adventure, resolve . . . and scathing invective heaped upon the Hurons!

Racial derogation isn’t easy to read. When some character in a novel slurs a people group, it makes you wince. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t worth reading. It means we need to know how to process racism in novels.

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Discern the author’s point. Is she making a point? Setting up a situation? Exposing a character (or the reader)? Or is it simply gratuitous?
  2. Take inventory. Is there any hint of this attitude in my own soul or social group? When the abrasion of reading racism provokes you, review your own assumptions.
  3. Learn from example. All characters are learning opportunities. Aspire to what’s honorable and repudiate what is not. Grow in wisdom by considering the warp and weft of others.

The more time I spent with the Mohicans, Hurons, French, English, and Colonists, the keener my insight into the character of man. By the end, I aspired to a higher standard. May every book we read leave so positive a mark.