I can’t recall when I read Wendell Berry’s 1970 essay The Hidden Woundfor the first time. But, as a white male from rural north Alabama, I do remember the effects of that initial reading. While my own rearing several decades later didn’t exactly mirror the one described in the book, Berry’s experiences of the far-reaching effects of racial prejudice, racial thinking, and the construction of identities of “race” resonated.
Since that first reading, I have re-visited the volume personally at least five times and taught it to students at both Canisius College and the University of Kentucky three other times. Perhaps because of my own scholarly interests and training, it stands as one of my favorite of Berry’s essays. I must admit, however, that I have always struggled with satisfactorily locating The Hidden Wound within and alongside the Kentucky farmer’s other writings. The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice alleviated (or at least begins to alleviate) that struggle. Despite some imprecision in his treatment of the ways “race” intentionally serves to limit and to define others, Berry situates the thoughts from his earlier essay on prejudice and racial thinking more fully alongside the other major themes of his thought, offering his readers something of a whole tapestry of his ideas.
Read all of "Identity and Integration: A Whole Lot of Wendell Berry" by Richard A. Bailey at Front Porch Republic.