Anti-historical America

To: The Anti-historian Supreme

Since the calendar has finally turned to December, does that mean you only have 14 more days to cash in on your peeps, what with the final Electoral College votes set to be cast on the 14th? Or are you going to somehow keep the charade going up to 1/20/21? Or perhaps indefinitely? You might need to tweak the pitch to something that acknowledges the done deal once you’re persona non grata at the White House. Maybe something like: “THEY STOLE THE ELECTION!!! THEY MUST BE PUNISHED — SEND MONEY NOW!!! IT’S COLD OUT HERE”?

Yesterday the WP reported that stooges inside the machine told reporters that since the election you all have scammed Republicans for at least $150 million, which is almost twice as much as you raised during your best month of fund-raising during the campaign. Plus, you can apparently use those funds for pretty much anything you like. So damn – you have it going on, don’t you? What is that per Tweet? You’re like the goose who laid the golden eggs; too bad they’re all rotten.

Once again, enough of you.

Laura and I are both reading Jill Lepore’s book, These Truths: A History of the United States, and will be for some time. My Kindle says I’ve read about 11% of the book and that I have nearly 39 more hours to go. It’s crazy long and it’s crazy dense. And it’s crazy disturbing, eye opening, and illuminating – it’s as though in shining a light back in time, she’s the present make way more sense.

Relatedly, this morning I read another piece about COVID’s starkly disproportionate impact on Black and brown people and how this has laid bare the deep and wide chasms of racial inequity in our society. The person said that part of what drives these persistent inequities is that we as a society are ahistorical, that we insist that whatever is the current reality has no meaningful roots in the past. She didn’t add that this allows those of us who benefit from that history to stay wrapped in our cozy, smug sense of personal accomplishment while we tut-tut about others needing to find and use their damn bootstraps. She didn’t need to – the implication was obvious; I just felt compelled to spell it out for you.

Anyway, reading Lepore’s book and seeing the deliberate calculations that our dear Founders made to enshrine their White male landed gentry advantages into law, I think that rather than characterizing US as “ahistorical” it would be more accurate to say we are “anti-historical.” “Ahistorical” connotes a sort of laziness that isn’t necessarily motivated while “anti-historical” makes clear that These Truths of our founding and their toxic, death-dealing legacies have been actively hidden from US. “No, no, dear – you don’t need to look in that closet or under that bed at those dusty old papers, buy this shiny bauble instead….”

I read an interview with author, Jason Reynolds, the other day and he was talking about a reading he did for middle and high school kids from his book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (with Ibram X Kendi). He recounted how towards the end of the Q&A time one girl expressed her outrage that the adults in her life had kept all this history from her and her peers. Reynolds said that he empathized with her, but had to tell her that he was quite certain they didn’t know this history either because the system has done such a tremendously good job of White washing it all.

The wise ones, Malcom X, Wells (Ida B), Buddha, Ghandi, Lepore tell us to study, to read, to understand what was and is real, to think for ourselves, and to stop taking the bait that’s killing us. Those are some big footsteps to follow in, but if we don’t, we’re liable to find ourselves on the very wrong side of history.

May we be safe to see and learn what needs to be seen and learned.
May we be willing to let go of old, soft-focus notions of America.
May we have the strength to connect the past to the present and stop being antihistorical.
May we accept that narrowly held privilege was never ok and can never be ok.

Tracy Simpson

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