It is easier to destroy a myth than to replace it.
As we try to escape the distorting influence of a founding mythology built on racism, it might be helpful to review how these subconscious biases operate.
You can lie, cheat and steal and still win a reputation as a bold truth-teller by lying in ways that reinforce a cherished mythological value.
White supremacy, as a mythology, defines the “us” on which sacrifice, collaboration and trust can be built.
Under an emerging mythology of white supremacy, there was no price to be paid for using the imprimatur of science to promote unfounded, sometimes downright batty assertions, with terrifying implications for real, living people.
Myths follow power, but in the years after the Civil War many powers vied to dominate the American future. Artists like Whitman made choices that tipped the scales in this battle toward terrible ends.
In the end, we can help cement into place a new unifying mythology by making villains of those who fought for the old.
These kinds of transformations seldom have a long tail. They usually appear pyrrhic until they suddenly prevail. We may have far less time than we think to imagine what will replace white supremacy as our unifying mythology. And People sharing a space without a shared definition of “us” rarely share that space politely.
We’re on our way to Austin. Closed on our Chicago area home last Friday. Sticking around the area this week to tie up loose ends. It’s been a wild, tumultuous process that’s left little room to sit and think, much less write. Might still be a couple more weeks before …
We have relative progress on racial equity because that progress benefits powerful people. Recognize this pattern of interests and it can become a lever toward real progress.