Hedreich Nichols

Guide Her Through the Night

Small Bites Friday Five 07-03-20:

20-30m – Research at least one issue that directly affects your community and customize the template you set up last week to send an email to your elected officials.

15-20m – Watch a couple of mini episodes of the PBS series Traitors and Patriots.

10-15m – Listen to ‘White Fragility’ author Robin Diangelo on How To Start Anti-Racist Work in an 11+ minute interview with NPR. 

5-10m – Remember last week’s conversation you had with a young person on race? This week, reflect on the information you gathered. Do the people you talked to think like you? Is there room for expanding your opinions or your circle?

0-5m – Google #blackAtAndover or #BlackAt(enter institution name here), to find a rising number of social media accounts exposing racism at elite academic institutions.

If only, in honor of this 4th of July, we could end politically charged Covid and racial discrimination to rise from the ashes of this year and fly full staff in a glorious post-virus, post-racial time where we find America to be a land of liberty and justice for all.

It should be easy, at least the post racial part. Ending discrimination should be as easy as following the golden rule or loving thy neighbor as thyself (which, btw, includes wearing a mask). But somehow, something akin to self-preservation blocks us from delving into the possibility of complicity so that we have to work especially hard to face the fact that we’ve historically not treated others as we’d like to be treated. It seems too, that many are having great difficulty recognizing that this historical inhumanity is as American as apple pie.

A conversation with my friend Kellie made me see American self-preservation for the gaslighting it is. Why did it take a white educator to get me to even consider that the American practice of creating false historical narratives that selectively glorify some and diminish others as gaslighting? How could I have missed that? Because we in the Black community have also been fed the same narratives. We are taught to love our country in it’s whiteness which means we are taught disdain and disregard for our own culture by default; American history vs. Black history; Hulu’s movies vs. Hulu’s Black Stories; The Civil War vs. The Civil Rights Riots.

Every time our nation comes to a point of reckoning with race, white America is ripped apart, some taking stock but others digging in, refusing to see that the land grants and Jim Crow laws intentionally kept black families and communities from flourishing. Black Americans take stock as well, often grieving as we feel yet another seismic shift in the careful construct of the Black and American compartments of our psyche.

I have been taught to love and honor my country. I grew up a proud southerner and it hurts to think of my homeland as perpetuator of atrocities. But enslaving humans, Jim Crow laws and a for-profit prison system, well, there is nothing free or brave or even honorable about any of that.

As one nation under God, we are unwilling to reckon with the fact that we have not loved our neighbor as we love ourselves. We have not and do not treat others as we want to be treated, and as a nation, we have not embraced the Black community as the widows and fatherless we have made them to be, beginning with the middle passage and continuing through 401 years of systemic inequities that put the black community at a disadvantage.

The country that I love has the potential to become far greater than she has ever been, but only if we acknowledge the reality of our past. Beginning now, as we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence that did not include the independence of my forebears (well, most of my forebears, because, you know, #metoo was not a thing for enslaved girls and women), we have an opportunity. Instead of pretending that we should work to be as great as we once were in some imagined era of glory, let’s confront our past and make necessary changes within ourselves and our communities to make good on the promise of liberty and justice for all.

Happy 4th of July.