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February 8, 2022
Continuing to Honor International Women’s Day
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The United States is in the process of transcending
the undemocratic assumption: that
some people deserve more power than others.
(Inspired by Jamelle Bouie)
There is growing fear the latest incident of book burning will ignite those who cannot adjust to the idea that all people are created equal. What are we to think when great literature like Toni Morrisson’s “Beloved” is banned from school libraries? How is it possible, in twenty-first-century America, to compromise the right to vote based on gender, age, skin color, or income?
The problem has been with us from the beginning. It is embedded in our history. We will only be free if we, as a Nation, can confront the sins of the past, the realities of the present, and the actual effects racism has on the lives of real people. The truth must be admitted, told, taught, and appreciated if we are ever to become a Nation for and by “all” the people.
Many find facing the past difficult. It is sometimes easier to deny the past than face the truth. But the truth will make us free. Realizing the sins of the past is not an exercise in guilt and shame but liberation and justice. Awareness of our history invites us not to repeat it in restricting the right to vote, access to a good education, or the pursuit of a decent job.
This is Black History Month. A time to realize “Black History” is “American History.” Now more than ever, we must study the true history of our Nation. This is an important endeavor and a difficult one. We can only applaud the women and men who dared to face the truth of our history and challenge traditional stereotypes and prejudices.
One person comes to mind, Nicole Hannah Jones, author of the 1619 Project. She exemplifies the courage necessary to probe the historical record. She has been insulted, vilified, demeaned in her pursuit of facts and truth. Yet, she is a first-rate scholar who can communicate her research with clarity of thought. Open to constructive criticism, she proves herself to be an honest scholar. She may upset the applecart of the traditional historical narrative, which often sustains the racism, prejudice, and injustice.
Black History month invites us to discover not only the ruinous effects of slavery and genocide but the gifts, talents, courage, and beauty of the people who survive the chains of injustice. Their literature, songs, inventions, research, and work are part of our history as a Nation and a people. The time has come not to burn their legacy but honor it.
Nicole Hannah Jones and scholars like her reveal the future of life in the United States. People of all colors, creeds, ages, and identities are rising up to forge a Nation whose founding principles are becoming a reality for all its citizens. The opposition to the full human rights of those traditionally oppressed is strong but short-sighted and destined to failure. This is the month to claim the truth of ourselves, and now is the time to pledge anew to stand together as one people seeking liberty and justice for all.