Image from Huffington Post
As an American citizen, the bulk of my education revolved around our country’s history.
We started at the beginning–or at least, what we were told was the beginning: Christopher Columbus discovers America. The Pilgrims come for religious freedom. Did you know they became friends with the Native Americans on Thanksgiving?!
Soon after came the Revolutionary War. Later on, the Civil War. We were fighting over slavery, but we were also fighting over states’ rights. A century later, racism is still rampant and the Civil Rights movement is underway. Oh, and don’t forget about Rosa Parks: the brave African American woman who did not give up her seat on the bus. She was tired, after all.
Obviously, Christopher Columbus did not discover America. There were already people here.
But I was thirteen when I learned that Christopher Columbus was not the first white man to step foot in the Americas. In high school, I learned that the Pilgrims and Native Americans did not celebrate the Thanksgiving we now hold so dear. I was an adult before I learned that Rosa Parks had planned on not giving up her seat. She wasn’t just tired. She was an activist.
I was an adult before I realized my education had sanitized the uglier parts of our history.
I have spent so much time re-learning what I already thought I had learned, but I know there is still so much work to do.
I am an American, but I am also a Midwesterner who now lives in the South. I lived mere hours away from Ferguson, Missouri. I now live in the vicinity of Confederate memorials, and hours away from Stone Mountain, Georgia. The NAACP recently issued a travel advisory for Missouri. In the South, there are conversations about taking down Confederate memorials. Both have opened my eyes, and I hope that knowledge and compassion can spark some progress.
But it shouldn’t have taken this long.
It shouldn’t have taken a white supremacist march and violence and death to realize that the way we talk about our history is hurting fellow Americans.
Listen: there is nothing wrong with being white.
But it is wrong to be complicit. It is wrong to stay silent. It is wrong to stay ignorant.
My whiteness is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something to deconstruct.
Charlottesville proved that we are re-living history, but we are also creating it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with our own beliefs and prejudices. How did they get there? What can we change?
I have compiled a list of resources about race, anti-Semitism, and how we can respond. I hope that we read these articles while we drink our morning coffee or afternoon tea; I want us to peruse them when it is slow at work or when we need something new to read. I want us to revisit them when tragedy strikes–but more importantly, I want us to read them on the days that seem ordinary and otherwise uneventful. If racism and prejudice can become ingrained in us, then love, mercy, and justice can become ingrained in us, too.
If you have any resources (online or otherwise) that you would like me to include, leave a link in the comments at any time. This will be an on-going list–and they don’t have to be in reference to Charlottesville. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.
The Salt Collective: How To (and not to) Respond When Someone Calls You a Racist
Relevant Magazine: It’s Not Enough to Just Not Be a Racist
Glennon Doyle Melton: For Trayvon
Teen Vogue: Women Have Always Been a Part of White Supremacy
The Huffington Post: All The Swastikas And Broken Glass Since Charlottesville
Relevant Magazine: Why All Christians Should Celebrate the Removal of the Confederate Flag
The Salt Collective: How We Can Start Asking Better Questions About A Person’s Race and Identity