Híyoge owísisi tánga itá (Cricket egg stories)
September 8, 2018 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Our children’s abusers justify themselves by promising that hurting young bodies can save the souls within. Perhaps it can, but only in the way that drying meat into jerky can save the deer.
Dr Katherine Crocker (@cricketcrocker) is a biologist and member of the Kaw (Kanza) Nation, writes a powerful, beautifully-written essay on history, genocide, epigenetics, and grandmother crickets.
posted by Rumple (6 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I'm glad this got posted here - Katherine is one of my favorite #sciencetwitter people and it's so interesting and poignant to see research's resonance across contexts.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I will want to say all of this, but instead I will be breathless with grief and ask her if she realizes how much pain she is causing me. I will ask her if she can hear her own words. In response, she will slam out of the restaurant, and among the women left at the table, I will almost hear cricket song in the silence. Although they are my friends, they will not invite me to join them again.

this is so powerful and so fucking commonplace and so very very exhausting. navigating around white fragility, managing white emotions, lowering your voice and policing your tone when talking about centuries of horrors that have continued unabated, unchecked, unpunished, so that the descendants of the perpetrators of those horrors aren't made to feel bad, because once their feelings are hurt they withdraw their comically conditional allyship.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:48 PM on September 8, 2018 [15 favorites]

"Our history is neither written by nor coded into our DNA, but it is nevertheless scrawled and carved into us like graffiti."

This is such a good essay. Thanks for posting!
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:59 PM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I grew up both knowing and not knowing the pain of my heritage; I was raised to consider myself white, and learned about Native Americans in school. I remember stumbling across nameless familiarities that I could not explain, resonances that did not touch my classmates. In those moments, I recognized my kinship and my history, though I had been told it was not mine. My training as a biologist assures me that there are no memories hidden in my DNA. And yet I feel them.

This was how I grew up, too, only as it turns out, I'm Jewish. And I've had to find my place in that world for myself, too. This makes so much sense to me and resonates, here on Erev Rosh Hashanah. There were these things about myself and about my upbringing that I really didn't fully understand until I got to know my mother's family and her friends from childhood. And even then, what I was recognizing was intangible, like patterns of behavior, like patterns of thought. I recognized them even though I'd never met most of those people before. It's probably part of why my husband made so much sense to me when I first met him, because his ancestors are from the same area of the world. There are things that feel right to us because of this history that rides along with us.

Our history is neither written by nor coded into our DNA, but it is nevertheless scrawled and carved into us like graffiti. Some things fade quickly but other events last longer, or are temporarily obscured only to resurface generations later, powerful beyond what we have been taught to expect.

Epigenetics is so real for me, all the time. I think about it a lot. If you look at me, at my mother, at our bodies, it's so clear. And in a world where bodies like ours are a problem, it's continually an issue. But we are the way we are because our not-so-distant ancestors gave up everything they had to escape pogroms and persecution. I am the way I am because I came from both those ancestors and from pilgrims, the descendants of whom collected tin cans during the Great Depression. However much we Americans might want to believe in the myth that we can just pick up and drive to escape whatever might ail us, well, there are some things you can't travel far enough to escape. I think about that a lot in the context of the way my brother and I grew up, the recurring dreams we both turned out to have, the way we both depersonalize and compartmentalize. I don't know what that will do to our putative descendants, but I'd love to live to find out. I guess we'll see what happens.
posted by limeonaire at 10:08 PM on September 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh right, also: Kandinsky. This reminds me of how there is something about Wassily Kandinsky's work that is like remembering something I'd long since forgotten. When I was in high school, before I even remember having seen his work, I was making art that had such similar motifs. And as it turns out, he was from the same place as my ancestors.

Writer Richard Bach had this theory that perhaps we could remember past lives, that certain things feel resonant with us or not resonant with us—in his case, the music of certain classical composers—because it was a thing we liked or that was contemporary during a past life. Well, perhaps there really is some echo of past lives in our choices and our predilections, even if they weren't our past lives.
posted by limeonaire at 10:23 PM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

This essay was the best thing I've read in some time. I learn a lot from @cricketcrocker on the daily, and highly recommend following her on Twitter.
posted by pemberkins at 6:09 PM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

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