Are You Ready?

In the animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” there is a voodoo man named Dr. Facilier who quests for more power and money throughout the entire film. After Prince Naveen visits him, viewers discover that Dr. Facilier had sold his soul to obtain his powers, and that he was still alive only because he kept bargaining with the evil spirits. When his plan fails, he is swept into the evil realms never to be seen again. The theme song for Dr. Facilier asked, “Are you ready?” which was a reference to paying the price of being able to use his powers against anyone he wanted. The United States is experiencing a surge of violence not only because people fear death and are being traumatized daily by people they purportedly chose to represent them, but because the country is in an era of reckoning. The lies that were used to commit atrocities and maintain control are being revealed, and those in power are losing the battle to control the narrative presented, so they are hiding behind the only vulnerable people they have left: their children.

Whiteness did not always exist in the United States, but was born of rebellion against the status quo, even though that rebellion was born of racism as well. Many people understand that Sir Francis Bacon was known for uniting the enslaved with indentured servants against the privileged, but few people understand that Bacon’s ultimate goal was to exterminate indigenous people to give colonists free range over land they stole. The oft-repeated narrative about this story is that Whiteness was created to divide the enslaved from White people to prevent future collaboration, which is how Whiteness became a weapon against the subjugated. While this is true, people should have also been told that the enslaved were triangulated against indigenous people, potentially thwarting any collaboration among non-White people, who outnumbered the colonists. After that rebellion, “White” people — who were composed of whomever the dominant narrative accepted at the time — gained control of the enslaved. Even the poorest, most denigrated White person found validation in being better than the enslaved, who were denied native languages and cultures in favor of the indoctrination forced upon them.

So began the journey of creating lies that citizens of the United States have been forced to swallow for centuries: the brave colonists were rebelling against the evil monarchy, and White supremacy was actually freedom for everyone, which is why it should be protected. The enslaved had limited access to this knowledge for years because of the denial of education and the harsh punishments exacted on them for saying anything other than the lies. Even while experiencing horrible violence, the enslaved had to protect the lies that projected that violence upon them because of their lack of control. Such lies maintained slavery until people outside the United States could no longer ignore the violence being exacted upon the enslaved, and the dominant narrative was forced to pretend to evolve to avoid further conflict. Any history or reality that did not support this narrative was ridiculed and discredited, and all people learned to avoid repeating truth too loudly — regardless of slave narratives, underground publications, and long memories. It is only during this current era after all that “discredited” writing was mined for truth that anyone has learned to spread the truth everywhere. Ironically, schools are the only place where the lies are being preserved.

Throughout history, Whiteness has been used to promote segregation, claiming that White people needed to keep their children, especially their women, safe from the advances of “savages.” This lie is easily discredited because once “freedom” was established, many of the freed people formed independent communities designed to disengage from the dominant narrative. Most Black people were forming businesses and farming their own lands, some of them forming alliances and cultures with indigenous people — in other words, not projecting violence on White people or their communities. Instead of accepting that “freeing” people after enslaving them did not exonerate the abuse, the dominant narrative would rather perpetuate the idea that Black people were completely lost, needed to sharecrop in order to survive, and were useless without White dominance. This same tactic is used to justify displacement, which amplifies just how neglected communities of color were before White people considered them “trendy.” Imagine how many questions White children would have for their parents after learning that White people were so disgusted at having “lost their property” that they enacted violence by lynching Black people and burning independent communities to the ground. Moreover, why would White children see their parents as heroes after learning that their parents used them to rationalize neglect in the neighborhoods of other children?

After the IPCC report on environmental damage, everyone in the United States is being confronted with the knowledge that the accepted way of “American” life is destroying the only planet that sustains human existence. To that end, there are several self-righteous vegans screaming at people for eating meat and having children — even as they promote developers building even more unaffordable properties over arable land, ensuring that humanity would be unable to feed itself while staring at empty properties used solely for profit. The myth that all of these people have been sold is that the only people who truly care about the environment are White people who can afford expensive, alternative lifestyles. Imagine how many questions White children would have for their parents for maintaining an “out of sight, out of mind” perspective on environmentalism, i.e. if the dumps, the power plants, and the nuclear waste are out of sight, “no one” has to deal with them. What would the White children have to say if they consistently learned that highways that spew toxins were built to “protect them” from “others,” and that “others” are still forced to rely on those highways because the empty housing closer to work is too expensive because of the “free market”?

Integration has always been seen as a threat because there are too many questions that White people would have to answer for people they have been trained to control, and the dominant narrative has told them that they are entitled to such control. Subjugated populations were supposed to be grateful for the dominant narrative, not disgusted at its rampant entitlement and willful ignorance. Everyone should want to buy property, not learn that indigenous cultures around the world understood that if everyone has to live on the land, ownership was inevitably irrational. As the dominant narrative has been losing its grip, there was confidence in maintaining the lie only because children continued to be taught the lies, and before the internet, no one could dispute those lies. The only good thing about the current genocide is that students were kept home from indoctrination, and there was a lot more time to learn truths — yet another reason why the dominant narrative is trying to force everyone to “return to normal.”

There is no definite understanding of what it means to be a parent, but one of the most sacred of lies that has been preserved is that parents are heroes to their children. Having children is considered such a sacred right that people have been willing to deprive people of other rights just to preserve the right to have children, who in turn would be used to validate the existence of their parents. Lying to children is something that all people have done at one point or another, and many of those lies are outwardly harmless, and can be easily remedied. The lies of history are much more dangerous because as people learn the actual truth of the circumstances that created the current nightmare, many of those parents will turn into monsters. Rather than being seen as beacons of morality, children might view their parents as selfish for living in segregation, poisoning other people’s lands, destroying other people’s neighborhoods, and then calling the other people “dangerous.” A relationship that was expected to be simple becomes monumentally harder to navigate, and a lot of damaged trust looms at such revelations.

However, here is another truth: avoiding the truths of history does not alter them because the past has already happened. A lot of souls were lost to preserve the lie that White supremacy meant freedom for everyone, and a lot more will be lost to maintain it. Refusing the call the deaths of over half a million people “genocide” is another comforting lie, which the United Nations perpetuates by not seeing all people in the United States as “a people.” One has to be willing to move away from ease to move towards justice; otherwise, this era will become another lie that survivors tell themselves for comfort, just as previous generations talk about the Civil Rights era. Until White people with control and resources are ready to admit that they need power over others to feel like human beings, their antiracism work is just another way to gain to attention. Are you ready?

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