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1619 Project Discussion

The Truth vs. Traditional Narrative
By Blog Master
Posted on 7/11/2021 1:23 PM

Our next meeting is coming up this Friday, July 16th at 12pm PST.

The 1619 project makes the point that we were a slave owning society for 150 years before we became a nation.

Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America -- it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

Kendi is the author of a national award winning book detailing how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.

In shedding light on this history, "Stamped from the Beginning" offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.

Our first article points out the role that the history of racism plays in the very formation of the country in the events in and around 1776, the birth of the nation. The idea of slavery was deeply embedded in the psyche of the culture at that time, and it played a critical and active role in the very events that created the nation. This shows very clearly how deeply entrenched and committed to the idea of slavery that this whole country has been and remains through the persistence of the people who took that position and defended that principle.

"Who controls the past, controls the future"-- George Orwell, 1984.

This sessions suggested readings get together to tell a very interesting story. First, George Orwell, in his book 1984, describes very clearly to us the future that we live in today. He cautions us about the dangers that we are facing today in his 1949 book, 1984.

In the 1776 article, we see a clear example of a historical manipulation that occurred at the very foundation of our nation. It discusses how Adams created a self-serving narrative and omitted the use of promoting racial tension and fears to bring the 13 colonies together. Adams created a “history” where the formation of our nation was never based on propagating these racist ideas.

Sadly, the suppression of history continues almost everyday. Here is another recent example of valuing our "traditional history" over the truth. The article describes how the Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick cancelled an event regarding a book that would have shed light on slavery’s role in the Battle of Alamo simply because they preferred the traditional narrative over the truth, the narrative that Adams so conveniently put together, the narrative that the 1776 article clearly states was wrong. This Texas action emphasizes the importance of the 1619 project, whose goal is a re-examination of history with the parts that were suppressed being brought forward for a better understanding of how who we are today has been shaped by what has happened in our past. It is a cautionary tale.

On another note, a recent article describes a study that shows that in the last 30 years, while the demography in the country has changed substantially and diversity has increased, housing segregation has not changed at all. It is hard to understand how this can be true without institutional barriers. That seems to indicate that there are barriers in existence that are much more complicated and harder to understand than the old well-known practices of redlining and housing exclusionary practices in neighborhoods. This requires a better understanding of what the barriers are in this complex world that we live in if we are to make any progress in changing the nature of our society. The same study documents how housing segregation effects all aspects of our lives from health to occupational and advancement opportunities. At the core of all of this is the issue of racism, of which there is a long and persistent history in this country.