by P. Andrews-Keenan
As we contemplate this July 4th as a national day of independence, certainly our concepts of freedom and democracy have been tested and found lacking. All our eyes have been opened to the narratives that have been left out of the history books, or the ones that have been altered beyond recognition.
The New York Times 1619 Project opened our eyes to the economic bedrock of slavery on which this country was built. A new book written about the Alamo shows that the white immigrants to the then Mexican colonies revolted in part because they wanted to maintain slavery, yet the Texas legislature forbids teaching this immutable fact.
So much of what we believed has been found lacking, yet we only have one country, albeit one that is not indivisible. What can all of us do to live up to our founding principles? Certainly, it isn’t putting on blinders and pretending that everything is ok. Certainly, it isn’t shielding our children from the truth of history. In fact I believe our children are much better equipped to be the bridge between what was and what is to be.
While we don’t have answers, we can do the hard work. We can make this the moment we walk in the truth of who we are as a nation and do whatever it takes to not repeat the errors of the past. How else can we ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity?
At Pigment we believe Black artists are about truth telling. They are not about committing lies to canvas. And that truth telling will be one of the things that saves our democracy.
“No man can put a chain about the ankle of another man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” Frederick Douglass
Bust of Frederick Douglass by Gerald Griffin