This chapter about the Juneteenth celebration at Galveston Island has helped me walk further along a new path of truth in America’s history. This passage, written by a young black man, also speaks to me, an older white woman, who learned history in a similar way with white-washing and lies to hide the deeper truths of white supremacy that people didn’t want to say aloud. We are also seeing it in our lived day-to-day history in this, the 21st century.
I watched these young people read to the audience parts of history that placed our country in context. I felt, in that moment, envious of them. Had I known when I was younger what some of these students were sharing, I felt as if I would have been liberated from a social and emotional paralysis that for so long I could not name—a paralysis that had arisen from never knowing enough of my own history to effectively identify the lies I was being told by others: lies about what slavery was and what it did to people; lies about what came after our supposed emancipation; lies about why our country looks the way it does today. I had grown up in a world that never tired of telling me and other Black children like me all of the things that were wrong with us, all of the things we needed to do better. But not enough people spoke about the reason so many Black children grow up in communities saturated with poverty and violence. Not enough people spoke about how these realities were the result of decisions made by people in power and had existed for generations before us.
Smith, Clint. (2021) How the Word Is Passed, Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
For so long
arisen from history
lies told about slavery
lies about our country
Not enough people
realities of power
for generations before us
I’m trying to find a balance in how to read these rich chapters. For the first few chapters, I highlighted things I wanted to remember on my Kindle. This time I took notes in a journal. After three pages of notes and two poems, I was still only half finished with the chapter. Hmmm…I’ll keep trying.
Prompt 112 last week from Nadia Bolz-Weber was writing about “Things I’m not proud of…” Here is more:
Write a confession—something you did or said that you still carry with guilt and shame. Then write your own absolution, honoring the aftermath of your actions, calling in grace.
*Optional: Burn after writing.
This was powerful for me. I wrote and wrote about things I am ashamed of. Of words that I have spoken to my own children and my students. My tongue is too sharp. Over the years, I have felt the millstone around my neck getting heavier and heavier, a sad reminder of the little ones I have offended.
Then He said to the disciples, “…It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he shouldoffend one of these little ones.
I wrote my confession and then shredded, instead of burning, it (due to the smoke alarm in my flat).
As a result of Nadia’s prompt, I subscribed to the Studio Visits at The Isolation Journals. Tonight I got to go to my first Studio Visit with Nadia Bolz-Weber and Suleika Jaouad. It was a lovely hour spent soaking in grace and hope and peace.
God, I thank you that you understand that I am complicated, so many folded together layers of humanity. So much to be ashamed of, yet so much to rejoice in. So much fruit and life and joy and service. I thank you that you have gradually given me freedom to grow past my mistakes, actions, and words that shame me. You are never surprised by what I do, you love me and forgive me. Thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for picking up the pieces and patching me together with you, the living Word of God. Amen.
Is there a person in your family who is the holder of human stories and conspiracy theories? I have a sister like that. Over the years, I liked to imagine that her rumors and theories were just that and not really true about the history of our family. I have always been a bit of a Pollyanna.
I prefer not to hear about the dysfunction of the humans in our family, but she seems to be a collector of these stories and is not afraid to tell them. She uses them to keep us all more honest and down-to-earth. Nothing shocks her. She has a much healthier appreciation of the complex truth of human experience than someone like me.
She is three years my senior, so I grew up with her and her stories. Most often I didn’t believe her about alcoholism, adultery, out-of-wedlock births, undisclosed gender and sexuality issues. How did she know all these things? She is a detective in her own right.
As a teen and adult, I began accepting that there were truths in her stories, and I have come to more greatly appreciate the complexity of human life.
After a long day at work, I had a sweet conversation with my team. It was a nice ending to a long day. In a meeting this morning, I came to learn of a GIGANTIC report that the Ministry of Education asked us to complete last week, while we were on spring break. God bless our administration for not calling us in and making us do it. Instead the Ministry gave us an extra week.
Yesterday our VP explained some things to us in email, but we had a lot of questions, so I just waited until our Tuesday morning meeting. Today we realized what it entailed. I started texting the teachers on my team:
We discussed and began to figure out what was entailed. We each had to gather eight different pieces of evidence for each class they teach. As well as figure out how to best represent it–photo, Google Doc, video, link page.
It was a lot of work. Of course, we didn’t do only that all day! We had family commitments, other school work and connecting with students. I even participated in a virtual TeachMeet by leading a five minute session.
But at ten minutes before our deadline, ten hours after we started, we were finished, and it was a job really well done! We gave each other virtual high fives and applause. We gave flowers and congratulations.
There were lots more messages flying through the virtual airwaves. But the best one for me, as the team leader was this note telling about a Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol quote about how the best thing that functioned was the team. I miss them so much.