Should We All Have Racial Amnesia? The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Swirl

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Blast from the Past!
Brought back for our current audience to read & comment on.
Originally published on June 19, 2010. _________________________________________

 

[Presented by Christelyn]

History can be a distasteful thing; and frankly I don’t like dealing with anything distasteful unless its vodka. That’s why me and the hubster can NEVER watch Roots together. Crap like that puts me in an “I hate white people!” mood, which is not really healthy since I’m married to one. I give him the side eye during those Kunta Kinte whipping scenes and then he looks back, befuddled. I guess I can’t blame him–his grandparents didn’t touch American soil until the early 1900′s. Until then, his mom’s side was stuffing their faces with potato balls and sauerkraut in Germany while his dad’s people where fighting over tickets for Chopin in Poland. My only comeback: “Well, your people picked Hitler!” But then it gets complicated, because the other half of him is Polish and they had their share of atrocities put upon them during WWII, so really, I can only be mad at half of him, and then feel sorry for the other half, so it cancels everything out.

Back to history. Truly it is hard to look at painful things that have occurred during slavery and segregation. So if I ask a teenager to put down his iPod for a sec to tell me if he knows about Jim Crow and replies, “Isn’t he a drummer from that one band?” my first reaction is to think homeschooling is totally back on the table. But then, I wonder…is that ignorance all bad?

Guest blogger, ‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad, a self-described secular humanist white guy with an interest in social justice, black women’s empowerment, and all-around lover of the melanin-rich, poses the question–is it better to remember…or forget?

— Christelyn

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by Bill Drew (Aabaakawad)

I have a dream too, much like Dr. King’s. In my version, Black & White citizens work through understanding & overcoming our differences and the history that produced them. I imagine White America finally coming to terms with their full role in creating our country’s defining tragedy, and Black America, having finally been seen, being able to forgive. Healing, in other words. Perhaps this is also what you have hoped for too. Is this too much to ask?

As much as the thousands of racial bloggers and writers have worked for decades toward these goals, it is not their demographic, middle-aged intellectuals, that is reconciling. The most successful populations in America at Black/White interaction are adolescents and young adults. Our current black and white youth are connecting, befriending and romancing each other across the color line. But theirs has not been a story of overcoming differences and dealing with shared history. In fact, our youngest people usually aggressively deny that there are any differences, or any history to be interested in. It is axiomatic in their ideology that “we are all the same under the skin”. This “End of History” narrative offends my personal dream.

Resolution or Absolution? Reconciliation or Nevermind?

I know where my instincts are on this, but should they be trusted? The “Great Forgetting” strategy is, after all, successful. Young people are dispensing with racism and leading the way … beyond Black & White.

Has America simply produced more history than it can consume?

Please, state your opinions and discuss.

Wishing you all progress …

— Aaby

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