It’s been a while since my last post. So much has happened and very little of it good. I’m inspired to write this post after reading The 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones. In case you don’t know, this was the woman who was initially denied tenure at the University of North Carolina because of her work on so called critical race theory. She was eventually granted tenure but after the raging controversy in the wake of her tenure battle, she decided to teach at Howard University where she would be welcomed with open arms. While I can’t blame her for doing what’s best for her, I wish she had stayed in North Carolina. We certainly need her much more here than in Washington, DC.
There’s a bittersweet irony in her book. On the one hand, I believe every American of color (African, South Asian, East Asian, Latin American, Arab and Native American) should read this book because within its text lays the understanding of how American came to be, how its ethics, traditions and morality evolved and what it really means to be an American. For people of color, this information is not only an enhancement for success in America but also critical knowledge necessary for our very survival in America. On the other hand, after reading half way through the book, it became clear to me that the author was not talking to me. She was actually talking to white Americans. Most people of color already know to one degree or another much of what she is talking about. Her gift to us is the ability to contextualize what we know in a meaningful way, that enables us to appreciate our history, dark and tragic as it may be, in a way that allows being proud of our role in it and building on that pride to the benefit of all of America. Ironically it does the same thing for white Americans, even as brutal and horrific their role in our history may have been. What she gives all of us with her book is the gift of understanding. Understanding is the antibiotic America needs to heal itself.
It’s not surprising that the right wing Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation and it’s primary benefactor, Charles Koch are making an all out effort to discourage white Americans from reading this book. Just as those same elements did prior to the mid 1960s in the states of the old confederacy in which they censored and outlawed any art, literature, music or even scientific accomplishments of black people, they seek to censor any evidence that their narrative extolling white people as God’s chosen people and the only people responsible for any positive advances of the human race, as the gigantic lie that it is. White America is getting a glimpse of what the future may possibly hold for us by what we are witnessing in the war in Ukraine. White America needs to understand that the extent you empower local governments to disenfranchise minority voters and deny them equal protection under the law and give law enforcement permission to gun down people of color in the streets like dogs, you give them permission to do the same to you.
How often have you seen shows on television like Dateline, where innocent white people accused of murdering other white people, are abused and lied to by the police and ignored and ran over by the courts, to the extent that we’re all throwing popcorn at the TV screen in frustration? White people see those corrupt police officers and district attorneys as outliers and exceptions to the rule of competent, ethical law enforcement we all like to think is in place in America. But minorities of color experience the tactics we see on Dateline on a routine basis as do white people who lack the education and financial resources to confront them. If white Republican America continues on its course to jettison democracy in favor of a fascist dictatorship, it’s just a matter of time before those same fascists will be coming for you, just as Putin is coming for the white, peace loving Ukrainians.