A former New Yorker chronicled her experiences through the lens of questioning political correctness in her latest book.
Author Corinna Fales recently released her second book, “This Book is NOT a Safe Space: The Unintended Harm of Political Correctness.” In the book, Fales, 75, explores the topic of politically correct (PC) culture and modern-day activism through her own powerful testimony.
“PC is hugely divisive,” said Fales. “While it’s a loving book, through it I’m trying to understand how I see PC culture. I don’t take a political side, it’s more of a social book than a political one.”
Fales grew up near Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first historically Black college in the United States, before desegregation went into effect. Her father was a professor at the university, and Fales recalls seeing a number of sharp minds such as Albert Einstein coming to speak at the school. After he died Fales and her family had to move from campus housing to an area known as Lincoln Village.
“Southern Chester County was a very racist area. Lincoln Village was right next to Lincoln University, but it was like two different worlds,” said Fales. “I had literally grown up on both sides of the tracks. There was no interaction between the two.”
Fales chronicled her experiences growing up in the Lincoln University area in her first book, “Different: Our Universal Longing for Community.”
“I went back to the campus and village communities and did hours of interviews, including everyone from a civil rights leader to the son of a known member of KKK,” said Fales. “I looked at the social layers of the community. I had always wanted to write about it, not necessarily about me but the place and the people.”
Writing wasn’t always what Fales saw herself doing with her life. While Fales was on track to becoming a therapist, she found that she enjoyed writing the case reports more than the actual work of being a therapist. She ended up writing a research report for the Library of Congress that was ultimately published in a Library of Congress journal. From there, Fales found her writing style and has been writing ever since, and has served in editorial positions at Columbia University, CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, NYC nonprofits, public agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
“I love writing the reports. I loved figuring out what I wanted to say, what mattered, and what I really thought, and people liked it,” said Fales. “Now I lean more towards narrative nonfiction in my own style of writing.”
Fales was working in the human resources department at New York City’s Department of Social Services when the idea sparked for the content of her second book, “This Book is NOT a Safe Space: The Unintended Harm of Political Correctness.” She began to wonder why money was allocated for what she perceived as “PC crushes” rather than on things that needed more funding.
In the book, Fales looks at her own experiences through the lens of PC culture, including discussing her visits to migrant camps as a child growing up with Nazi survivors, her role protesting the Vietnam War, her multiple arrests for advocating for civil rights and nights spent in a bathtub to avoid the National Guard’s bullets in 1960’s Newark.
“I have a lot of street cred,” said Fales. “I’ve been arrested four times, I have a whole chapter on being in Cook County Jail. It’s a very personal book, very punchy and funny at times. That’s just who I am and I’m willing to say things about myself that are hard to say. It’s a very honest, straightforward, and personal book that deals with PC and the consequences.”
Fales says that through the book, she wants people to be able to have a conversation about who people are, rather than what they are. She believes the book could be helpful now, especially in the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“If I were younger, I’d be out there marching myself. I started an anti-racism group in the past. But I’ve been speaking to my friends in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem – they’re all terrified at the number of murders,” said Fales. “I think the reasons that they are happening could be viewed differently. I’ve had friends who were brutalized by cops, so I have no illusions there. But I think that what you do about it has to make sense for everyone.”
“If you identify as a victim, you won’t get anywhere in life,” Fales continued. “Because of what I inherited from my family’s past, I grew up supposed to be or feel like victim, like how could I be on earth when my relatives had been killed. I did a ‘poor me thing’ and kept me poor. I realized how destructive it is to be that way.”
Fales hopes that those who read her book will see that in her experience, political correctness could cause more harm than good in the long run.
“I hope it helps people really rethink the track we’re on and how it’s working,” said Fales. “Being PC is not a good thing, this is a harmful thing. What we have to do is talk to each other about things that relate to who we are rather than what we are. PC is the opposite of inclusion. PC wrecks any possibility for it.”
“This Book is NOT a Safe Space: The Unintended Harm of Political Correctness” is available for purchase on Amazon.