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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Gift of Our Wounds by Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka

Genre: Non-Fiction/Discrimination/Racism
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Authors: Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka
Release Date: April 10, 2018



From time to time, there's a book that excites and saddens me at the same time. The Gift of Our Wounds is that book. It's hard to put blinders on in today's political and cultural times. I want to, however. There's my problem. I want to pretend I live in a society where people simply accept each other. Where there is no racism, intolerance, and rabid hatred towards others.

I listened to Donald Trump scream "throw 'em out into the cold" when he spoke in my town. If anyone questioned him, the response was to toss them out, sometimes without coats in winter's brutal cold. I feared what was going to happen. I've seen people comment on social media that immigrants need to be tossed out. That Black Lives Matter protestors need to go away. I even saw people post that young adults who were protesting racism at their college get "run over." It all saddens me. Keep in mind that situations like that were running madly through my mind as I read The Gift of Our Wounds.

Arno Michaelis was a white supremacist. He's changed, but at times it was hard to look past some of the things he did. Beating gay men, people of different races... that was all part of his belief that anyone who wasn't white needed to be removed from a country founded on being a melting pot.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka, oh how my heart broke for him. His father was one of several men and women murdered at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Murdered simply for being a "different color." I remember when that happened. I remember being saddened that people never seem to learn that the U.S. is a melting pot of different cultures.

In The Gift of Our Wounds, you hear both men's stories. You learn how they came to meet and how they strive to change attitudes. It's a story that will touch your heart and bring tears to the eyes.

I've heard people say "the media blows it out of proportion" or "there's not that much discrimination out there." I have an answer to those naysayers. Over the holiday season, we had a Japanese-born, British citizen stay with us for a month. His mother is Burmese.

As he calls himself, he's "brown skinned." I was slightly horrified he felt the need to label himself, but I learned that it's hard to ignore. He went into a grocery store with me - a store in my community where I know the staff and some of the shoppers. I was disgusted and angered when a woman walking past us grabbed her six-year-old by the arm and pulled her away saying she wasn't to look at "that bad man." "Bad" simply for being a Muslim. This was one of the dozens of similar situations.

That "bad man" as that woman called him was cooking dinner as thanks for hosting him. He was helping with household chores without being asked. He was polite, friendly to all, and was a paying tourist. People were happy to take his money, but as soon as he turned his back, the dirty looks and comments started. I'm ashamed people are like this and have a hard time turning a blind eye to that kind of behavior. As a nation, we're all better than that.

The Gift of Our Wounds reminded me that despite all I see, maybe future generations will get it. I can only hope that the authors' message of love and respect for your fellow man are what this world needs most. Read this book. Take away something from it.


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