Don’t Punk Out & Let Shame, Guilt, and Fear Control You

shame, guilt

Photo by Grey World

Because avoidance and denial will not change a shared history (Black, white and native peoples) that heavily influences how we all move, talk, listen, act and engage with each other in America…

While doing some research on a NYT article for my next blog post in my series on power, equity, access and privilege, I came across a photo of an American lynching, of Laura and L.D Nelson on May 25, 1911 in Okemah, Oklahoma.

This lead me to an amazing site called Without Sanctuary, photos and postcards of lynching in America. According to the site,

Searching through America’s past for the last 25 years, collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. With essays by Hilton Als, Leon Litwack, Congressman John Lewis and James Allen, these photographs have been published as a book “Without Sanctuary”

I highly recommend watching the flash movie of some of the photos and postcards.


Why? You might ask, would you watch such a thing…


Because avoidance and denial will not change a history that heavily influences how we all move, talk, listen, act and engage with each other in America.

This is a shared history. The pictures are difficult to look at, both the images of those hanging and the faces of those watching. But difficult as that may be, it is indelibly etched into the core of each of us, born here on this land, whether  or not we like it, admit, or see it.

I challenge you to watch this short narrated slide show, share it with someone different from you, not in your inner circle, perhaps from a different American path then your own but part of the overall patch work quilt that is this American zeitgeist, but whom you trust. Because this is a hard thing to do for most us. But do it.


Why do I make this request /challenge?


Because we are a nation of people who for the most part have never acknowledged nor apologized for native people genocide and brutality of new world slavery. To do so would show complicity and acknowledge generations of experiences rooted in some seriously treacherous and barely human historical facts. Shown in glaring reality via these photos and post cards.

But as a nation we are falling apart at the seems, our patchwork quilt sewn in denial, fraying from shame and guilt, both of which come in many colors. None of which are the sole proprietorship of white people, it’s just that they have the privilege to ignore it and the sad ability to not see it even when right in front of their faces.

It is time for us to start having difficult and uncomfortable conversations.

Because the power born out of the birth of this nation is not only corroding here at home but is facilitating the crumbling of the world around us.

So to those who keep saying  “racism is over, let it go, it ain’t that serious”:

Don’t punk out and let shame, guilt and fear control you. Open your eyes, look at the images and see, this is part of who we are as a nation, it was serious then and it still is now.

Just some of us are enjoying the falsely positive outcomes, while others of us are reaping the constructed  and negative outcomes and implications.

 We can continue to ignore our shared history but chickens always come home to roost. 


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