For the duration of February, we highlight the history of African Americans in this country - most often those who have paved the way for freedom and justice. You probably know it, but we’ll say it again (just in case): we don’t live in a post-racial society. While this fact may be understood by many, it’s a persistent reminder of another: it takes work to uncover the reprehensible backstory the United States was built upon.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it necessary? Entirely.
When we don’t say the words, when we don’t recount the past - too often, the records of our history remain there. Until we acknowledge and recognize the most uncomfortable, often incomprehensible, parts of our collective history, we’ll continue to see it repeated in different forms: years of “separate but equal” that eventually morphed into intentional systems of racist housing policies and redlining, and presently, in a prison system with more black people under criminal supervision than there were those in slavery.
Uncovering the truth of hundreds of years of forced servitude and the decades of racism that followed is a difficult lesson to learn. But honestly facing it by expecting more expansive (and ugly) US history lessons and actually knowing and honoring the countless untold stories - is essential in order to move forward.
Societal racism is not a problem for one single person, one single community, or one single state - though it’s necessary to face at every level. The root of our nation’s patterns of racism runs deep - from the very beginnings of this country forward, and if we desire a future that truly deviates, we need a process of Truth and Reconciliation.
What can individuals do? (A quick caveat before we continue on: we are writing this blog as non-black people. We recognize that our understanding and perspective is limited and we welcome, with this post and all others, any suggestions that will help offer a more comprehensive lens.) That being said, here are a few suggestions: educate ourselves, talk to our friends and family, support and prioritize each other, and during Black History month, especially, celebrate both those who have paved the way for justice and those who were made invisible.