Tim Wise and Historical Memory

Tim Wise on white folks and historical memory:

There is none so dangerous as the white American who waxes nostalgic about what he or she likes to call “the good old days.” Or, alternately, those “simpler” times, or the era of so-called “innocence” remembered from their childhoods, memorialized in a Norman Rockwell painting, or via televised re-runs of the Cleaver family, or Opie Taylor casting a line down at the ol’ fishin’ hole.

None so dangerous because such persons, through their lamentations about having lost the nation they so fondly remember, disregard as if they were a mere annoyance, unworthy of consideration, the lived experiences of millions of their fellow countrymen and women: peoples of color for whom so many of those days were anything but good, far from simple, and part of an era that can only be thought of as innocent by a people utterly inured to suffering, wholly incapable of even defining innocence, let alone identifying it, and unable, for reasons of their own racial narcissism, to stare truth in the face. In this case, the truth that their recollections are the very definition of selective memory. Perhaps worse, delusion itself.

  • Lucy Maud Montgomery said it very well, I think: “Fear is the root of all evil.”

    And it is fear that is the root of prejudice and intolerance of any kind. Pity the racists, homophobes, misogynists, and other such stricken humans – they live in constant, mind numbing fear.

    Fear that they are inadequate, fear of things they do not want to understand, fear that someone, somewhere, will take something away from them.

    The only thing to fear, is fear itself. And of course, that the sky will fall on our heads.