Dustin McGowan and Monica Kumar hosted the first Community Conversation of the year on Friday evening, Jan. 29: “Before Reconciliation” – a discussion on the importance of and process for having honest and hard conversations about the racial history of our nation.
BEFORE RECONCILIATION: PART 1
Historical Construct and Narrative of Race
The stories we tell live in the air and the words that are used to tell those stories give life to our beliefs and values and build our world. Given how powerful narrative is, we believe that we are honor-bound to tell stories that are factual and honest. That it is our moral and spiritual duty to consistently revisit the past and audit historical stories against the backdrop of the current zeitgeist.
We also believe that before we can move toward national race reconciliation we have to have honest and hard conversations about the racial history of our nation. We hope that these articles and conversations will provide and provoke spaces to do just that.
That is what brings us to this:
"We haven’t talked about the legacy of slavery—or the ideology of white supremacy that justified the enslavement of black people—where we said black people were not fully human or not like other people. We haven’t talked about that.
We lived through this era of racial terror when we allowed thousands of people to gather in public spaces and cheer the torture, murder, and brutal execution of black men, women, and children who were burned alive and hanged in these spaces.
We allowed it to happen with no conversation. We never asked people to talk about that or to be accountable for that."
- Bryan Stevenson
Race and slavery in America is institutionalized into our historical systems and infrastructure and this makes it almost impossible to learn in a linear or chronological way. Laws, policies and social and political interpretations have from the outset been purposely intertwined and entangled so as to create a maze of confusion and conflict. Ironically it is now this complication itself that perpetuates complexity.
But we believe that there are key moments in our racial history that every American should have imprinted in their brains and hearts. These are the very basic facts about race that we should be taught in school without doubt, in much the same way we learn our alphabet and numeric systems. Below is an overview of the areas of race history in America that we will cover over in the series.
Our highest hope is that our discussions spark uncomfortable but vital curiosity and conversation across NWA
Dustin & Monica