In honor of Black History Month, we will share pieces written by Black members of our Nueva community. In the first piece, Dean of Student Life Hillary Freeman shares the importance of recognizing the history of Black people in the United States, made more poignant through her reflection on the January 6 insurrection (written the morning after the event).
Black history is a history that needs to be told and needs to be acknowledged. Without this dedicated month carved out, we might not, as a collective society, take the time to reflect on both atrocities and brilliance that Black people have endured and contributed to co-creating this nation. It is an ugly history of hate and repression made acceptable by the false ideology of white supremacy. It is a beautiful legacy of extreme strength under adverse conditions. It is a demonstration of resilience. Black history is one of grit, fortitude, and determination. It is daunting and a model for self love and change making. And above all, it is about perseverance. Until we all recognize that Black history is American history, we will find ourselves in an endless cycle of racism.
January 7, 2021, 6:30 a.m.
Let us not lose yet another moment when the challenges of our racist foundation are laid bare. Let us not sugarcoat or coddle our visceral feelings, but rather finally lean into the blistering wounds that have been exposed as another band-aid has been ripped off of our collective festering sores.
Let us not think that the people who, yesterday, exposed our deepest tentacles of unjustified hatred and twisted social constructs that we have been saddled with for centuries are not mirrors of ourselves. My hope is that this current insurrection helps us to understand what has long been understood to Black and Brown people: that the senseless killing; incarceration; double standards; and overt, covert, and insidious denigration of BIPOC has long been a meandering and ever persistent plague in our country.
Let us finally hold on to that vile disgust for the vitriolic attack on our collective sanctuary of democracy as a small window into the experience of the daily onslaught of aggressive behaviors—ranging from fatalities to microaggressions. And let us look at these acts of violence and aggression as a mirror of our flawed selves.
As we take a moment to reflect on the live, televised insurrection we witnessed, I wonder:
- If we feel the weight of American racism more when the perpetrators of violence look like everyday white Americans?
- If the sting is more stunning when white privilege demonstrates an utter disregard for the law?
- About why bullets, chokeholds, and handcuffs for Blacks replaced with unmasked in-your-face conversations between police and white terrorists—during a pandemic!—go unchallenged at the possible peril of our leadership?
- If we should question how we practice our flowery ideologies when domestic terrorists, with Confederate flags and a noose, run amuck on global TV?
The insurrection is American racism personified.
What more does it take for all of us to come to the same conclusion that until we lean into and eradicate this foundation of American society, it will continue to disrupt the idealism that we purport defines us? Americans have been brainwashed for hundreds of years. We must not wait hundreds of years more to course correct.
I beg you to hold on to the outrage you felt yesterday with hopes that it will help you see, with fresh eyes, and feel, with a warmer heart, that progress in this nation can only happen if every one of us accepts our role to lean fully into destroying the social constructs that rip our country apart in order to create the more perfect union. Our mission has, once again, been fully revealed.