In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the good in our community, across the country, and even the world, take a stand for social and racial justice. It’s time. No, It’s waaaaayyyyy past time for us to not only examine ourselves in this process, but the systems of inequities that brought us to this moment. Yet, these false and racist narratives we must face didn’t spring up overnight – or even in the past few years.
As National Book Award Winner, Ibram X. Kendi points out in Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas “Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era. These intellectuals used their brilliance to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial disparities in everything from wealth to health. And while racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited.”
How can white people begin to deconstruct racism? We can start with the language of white supremacy. And what I mean by this as Baratunde Thurston explores in his May 2019 TED talk, is “the system of structural advantage that favor white people in social, political, and economic arenas” this “narrative of racial difference” where we’ve accepted “the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of “living while black” where mere “existence” is interpreted as “crime”. Thurston’s profound, thought-provoking, and often hilarious talk reveals the power of language to change stories of trauma into stories of healing — while challenging us all to level up. Please give this a look/listen, give it some thought, and act. We can build a more inclusive world and write a better (hi)story.