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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bow Tie

I finished reading The 1619 Project two days ago.

As I read, I became more convinced that anyone who decries Critical Race Theory doesn’t understand what it is.

I look at the racist Buffalo shooter and at Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, associate dean at Penn Medicine, who runs an organization against "woke medicine" and Tweeted the other day that Brown and Black doctors may be "just less good at being residents." I take notice that last week was the 2-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and how long it took to charge Derek Chauvin and even address the other bystander officers. I realize that everyone who has taken an American history class needs to read this book.

I didn’t even know the year 1619 meant anything until this came out in The NY Times Magazine a couple years ago. There is so much context missing from what we’re taught in schools. This primer provides myriad sources and citations.

From the very beginnings of this country, enslavement has motivated so much of our everyday lives, and the forefathers knew it. They removed anti-slavery language from the Declaration of Independence (describing British tyranny) to avoid the image of hypocrisy. “Our forefathers may not have have believed the ideals they espoused, but Black people did.”

Meanwhile, the 2nd Amendment’s "well-regulated militia", framed as defending vs. tyranny, was actually designed to help put down slave rebellions. Imagine that.

Racism has motivated design of road patterns, a push against mass transit in many major cities. It's motivated terrible myths in healthcare, some of which persist today.

Exploitation of Black creativity created our current musical landscape!

Ibram X Kendi points out in his chapter how, from Lincoln to Obama, Americans focus on depicting an image of racial progress. We blame individual protests rather than systemic injustice. We act like non-Black people made such strides for freedom, when so often it has been Black people's efforts enhancing freedom for all (see: voting rights).

"We're built upon shame. You have to own it." -David Bell on Behind the Bastards.

Still, this isn't about "white guilt" (or brown guilt, because my ancestors are/were racist, too). It's about acknowledging this context and how it shapes entire systems as well as people (including individualized patient care - looking at you, Dr. Goldfarb). It's about making systemic amends so we can actually claim that we're all on even footing - because we aren't yet.

Thank you Nikole Hannah-Jones, et al, for educating us. We have a lot to learn.

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