It is my firm belief that any time Ms. Nikole Hannah-Jones has something to say, I need to listen.
Indeed, she says everything that needs to be said, with both precision and artistry, in the first article in the 1619 series in the New York Times Magazine.
So instead of describing her article at all, especially because I want everyone to read it, I will simply point to the title, which aptly signals the central premise: Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.
Every line in this article matters, which is a challenge to me since I thought it might make sense to highlight a quote or two per article as a way to pay homage to this series.
Still, this one is worth a look:
And so the inhumanity visited on black people by every generation of white America justified the inhumanity of the past. (Hannah-Jones)
(Chilling. Disturbing. Accurate. Perhaps one reason I relish this series is this hope—that if mainstream culture can acknowledge the inhumanity of the past perhaps we can reduce the inhumanity of the present.)
The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today, it has been borne on the backs of black resistance. Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused, but black people did. (Hannah-Jones)
Today I also discovered that the New York Times created a podcast based on this series—the first one relates to her article: