As I continued to read and eat my way through racial understanding, I realized that race is a persistent theme in American history. Specifically, the theme of slavery. It is an undercurrent sometimes flowing just beneath most of the major events in our past. It seems that the more we remove the myths of American history, the more race and slavery bubbles up. It’s not that I did not learn about slavery. In fact, I can’t remember a time that I DID NOT know about slavery. However, the discussion was always attached to the fact that we Southerners lost the war. We lost, and we’re still upset about it! Now, as I read with purposeful, new eyes I realized that slavery was an economic foundation of the British colonies, and the new United States of America. So some my ancestors, like many Americans throughout our history, advanced our family through direct or indirect oppression. This is an ugly part of our personal histories to explore.
Since our country’s founding we have dealt with the issues of race and slavery as a collective — the Civil War, Emancipation, and the Civil Rights Movement. American politicians have written amendments, passed laws, dedicated memorials, and designated national holidays. We have made progress, but apparently it is not enough. What I see on the news tells me it is not enough. What I sometimes hear in conversation among white people tells me it is not enough. What I observe on a daily basis as I move through my community tells me it is not enough. I believe a racial frontier still exists for Americans. We have done a great deal of collective/policy work, now we must do the personal work.
MY POINT: We have a racial frontier to explore and it is within each of us.