Topics in Advanced Composition
January 22, 2015
Summary Response 1: Most American (Corrections made 1/27/15) Askew, Rilla. “Most American,” Voices from the Heartland. Ed. Carolyn Taylor, et al. Norman, OK: U of OK Press, 2007. 3-13. Print.
Rilla Askew’s essay “Most American” discusses the unique nature of Oklahoma and its citizens. Oklahoma seems to be somewhat of an enigma to the average American, a place where someone is from as opposed to where they live. Most people think of Oklahoma as part of Tornado Alley, big oil, and the horror of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Askew recognizes that Oklahoma is the heart of America. She seeks to explore the Native American tribes and black communities and how their complex interactions with whites led to the destruction of their lives due to the greedy pursuit of land and oil. Unabashedly unashamed of calling the racism “ethnic cleansing” by whites of the minority cultures and indigenous peoples of the state, Askew places blame where blame is due: the hypocrisy of the white communities of Oklahoma to the minority members of the state. Yet, she recognizes the Protestant work ethic, neighborly devotion, and rugged self-sufficiency of the population. Oklahoma’s story is an every American story, flawed and difficult, powerful and long lasting. If Oklahoman’s can take responsibility for the worst of their history, they will become enlightened responsible examples to all citizens of our country.
The author bravely faces Oklahoma. As a descendant of former Kentucky/Mississippi natives, Askew confronts the good, the bad, and the ugly of Oklahoman history and its’ participants. Her eye misses no detail; her voice poetically recounts the story of Oklahoma’s evolution. As a writer, she finds the line connecting the narrative of events that defines Oklahoma to the greater American story. She notes that no Oklahoman should be surprised, given the...
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