Community & Government

Tell Our Stories

History, law, and culture are stories. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw emphasizes the importance of owning the narrative and telling the story of Black Americans in order to fight racial amnesia.

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Topics include: What Is Racial Amnesia?

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - There are a lot of narratives that people use to make sense of the world. There are dominant narratives. And then there are what we call counter-narrative. So here's a dominant narrative the United States is the home of the free and the brave. We are an egalitarian society. So if we look at patterns of who gets what, who's where, the dominant narrative tells us that those who are on the bottom are on the bottom because of some deficit that they have, either their work ethic or their culture. It's not a problem of our system. It's not a problem of our institutions. That's the dominant narrative. The problem is the power behind the fiction that one group is superior and another group is marginal. That the rewards, and the status, and the privilege that one group has is because they deserve it because they worked hard for it. And the reason the other group doesn't have it is because they haven't worked hard, or they don't deserve it, or there's something wrong with them biologically. That used to be the thought. Now, people don't say that so much, so much. A counter-narrative would say, not so fast. The United States aspires to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. It aspires to create equal opportunity. But that's far more of a hope and a dream than a reality. So the counter-narrative would be we have to actually look very seriously and very closely at how our institutions have been structured, how historically so much of opportunity has been distributed on a racial basis. And that distribution of homes, of jobs, of health, of wealth, all of those things continue to bear the imprint of those intentional decisions to rig the system. So a counter-narrative sings in a dissonant note. Yeah, that's what we want. But the reality is what we have created. So the counter-narrative says pay attention to this. Yes, let's celebrate what we want to be. But let's be honest. Let's be capable to have a straightforward confrontation in what we've actually been. [MUSIC PLAYING] American history is a story. It is a story told in many different registers. It's told by many different people. There is always a story. History is a story. Law is a story. Culture is a story. What story do you tell about who you are in this country? What story do you tell about your people in this country? What story do you tell about this country? Stories are the things that tell us when there's an injustice and when there's not. Stories are the things that tell us that a particular law or a particular program is either important to correct for discrimination or is preferential treatment or reverse discrimination. If you don't tell your story, if you don't make clear how the past has helped structured your future, the future of all of us, then we will not as a country be able to perfect the wrongs from the past. [MUSIC PLAYING] Racial amnesia is a condition of possibility that makes it possibl...

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From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Cornel West, John McWhorter, Angela Davis, Jelani Cobb, and Sherrilyn Ifill

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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