Originally published on Medium.
The story we’re living in America started long before we were born (and in all the myriad of ways in which different people came to be here, on this American soil).
In the documents that organized this land they were clear about who it was for: free (land owning) white men. This is the foundation on which we were built. This is the preface to our story.
Major chapters include the way in which our founders arrived and settled: by re-branding the existing inhabitants as savages and reducing the “savage population,” through policy, law and force. Systematically displacing them and redistributing their land to free, white (now more easily land owning) men.
The chapter on Bacon’s Rebellion, how our founders understood early the importance of systematically separating the dont-have’s and pitting them against each other in order to secure their own place in the ruling class.
The chapter on how the country was built: chattel slavery and immigrant labor. Major highlights in this chapter include the difference between chattel slavery and slavery elsewhere, and the way in which we allowed the Chinese to come build our railroads (without their families) and then passed law once the railroads were complete to exclude additional Chinese immigrants. More policy, law and force.
The chapter on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Brother against brother, families split over issues of economic freedoms (because when people are property, while humanity might be an impetus, in the end it is a structural issue of economics). A fragile peace held together only by military force. Military force that crumbled in a deal made by the ruling class to settle a contested election.
The chapter on how “race” does not exist, has no scientific or biological basis. However at the same time, has woven itself into our laws, or policies and our identities. And even there we are inconsistent on what is race and what is culture and what is appearance and what is ethnicity. And at the same time erasing it all is impossible.
And so many other chapters in between.
This is our story, America. We don’t learn to connect these dots in school and we are fond of stating it’s “in the past.” And in being in the past it is _in our fabric_. If you are surprised and shocked at the past year and its outcomes, I welcome you to dig deep into the fabric of our American Story. It will bring you peace in that you won’t feel so blindsided. What we see today is a direct result of everything that came before. This is our American truth.
I don’t say any of this to dismiss the shock and sadness that I know some are feeling. I don’t say any of this to shame or blame or say someone is right and someone is wrong. And to be clear, this is not about a candidate, this is about yesterday’s opportunity for us to see the Will of the People demonstrated in real time, state after state after state.
The story is playing out exactly how it was designed to play out. And it will continue to do so until we write a different story.
We can only have a chance to write a new story if we are clear about what came before and how it wraps us in truth today.
From where I sit, I see the preface of this new story. It started decades ago and this latest chapter is an opportunity for more writers to come to the table.
Let’s keep writing.