Over the last week, I have had a number of conversations with friends and clients about a myriad of subjects. Yet, they all ladder back to honesty and how to be authentic. I have dissected the intent of Baldwin with a Bernie supporter, talked about the intersection of class and race with a C-suite mentor, emboldened a Jewish friend in her quest for anti-racist parenting and supported a number of folks through identifying white fragility and centering.
The thing I am taking away, the thing that hits home for me, is how racism has created a disconnect from our humanity. Racism creates a harmful environment for everyone. A place where dishonesty is normal. Because of it’s clutches people are afraid to trust themselves, to be authentic. They do harm, they falter and stutter because they are looking through glasses so scratched and cloudy they cannot even see the outline of the trees.
This current administration has only worked to expand our ability to be dishonest. We live in a world of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” Some media outlets create false stories, doctor photographs and develop misleading headlines just to make money. It seems as if our president would be happy to rewrite history to suit his current mood or group of friends. Our relationship with honesty is out in the open for examination and we are fighting to determine who has a right to be right and whether historical accuracy plays a role in that right.
I wrote on my Facebook page that we should be honest about our history. And, I believe it. As a country we should lay our wounds out and examine the history that has shaped us into who we are today. We should present statues of Robert Lee next to memorials of slave families, murdered indigenous peoples, interned Japanese, belabored Chinese, the abused and overworked immigrants in our fields, nail salons and textile mills. I am arguing that we should have memorials to explain 3/5 legislation, slave patrols, displacement, middle passage, colorism and the intentional and legislated development of racial identity.
I don’t think we can heal or even begin to move forward unless we are willing to acknowledge the totality of our history. There are too many of us that do not know or believe in the accumulated incidents that have made the United States the country that it is. Perhaps we could be honest about our history and why those statues of Lee stand.
Confronting history has the possibility of creating humility. In my opinion, humility is often the best place to start a collaboration.
This week the conversations revolved around clarity, brevity, intention and impact. I wonder if there is any other road to collective shift than internal reflection and intentional work.
What would it take for us to be honest?
Once we can embrace honesty, we might be able to move on to doing no harm.