Maintaining Our Stories As We Fight Injustice

Every day is an opportunity to make history — and to study it. Human existence is cyclical, and it is important as we move forward that we are aware of the behaviors we have and that of those around us. Jacob Blake’s 2020 shooting will undoubtedly be reported in detail in the news media, with the usual public personalities weighing in on what has happened.

Changing representation

Let’s look at the past for a second. Whydah was a major slave port in the kingdom of Benin, as well as the namesake of the pirate ship Whydah Galley.

According to one European, who visited in 1692–1700, Whydah exported some thousand slaves a month, mainly taken captive from villages in the interior of Africa. According to records, ten traders would round up 100 or more slaves at a time as cargo.

Currently, the Whydah is a museum found in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The site focuses more on pirate history than its deep involvement in the African Holocaust.

While it is commendable that it is a museum at all given this country’s history with maintaining African artifacts and narratives, the glaring absence of narratives concerning the slaves and their families, save for a few, is a concern.

Truthful, consistent media

In the present day, the officer who shot Blake, the city in which the incident occurred, and other specifics have all been named. For the next few weeks, pundits and politicians will offer their take, and citizens will righteously and angrily protest what happened that fateful day.

What happens in the future? Contrarians may begin their common refrain: he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Why did he take this course of action or that?

Some time may elapse, intersecting the relationship between truth and sanity — alternative theories arise, and discussions about minutiae begin to blur the lines of honest conversation. Because so few answers are provided for each incident of horrendous police brutality, every report is met with hysteria, instead of sobriety and solutions.

After the hysteria has died down, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be manipulated and told that we were just imagining things; it really wasn’t that bad, and we believe the wrong information. It is here where an alternative timeline of events is introduced, and we begin to think that maybe we were crazy, after all.

Owning our story

It is as critical to bringing swift action to injustice as it is to be outraged about it. Brainstorming actionable steps and then working them also brings radical change. We have to tell our own stories and represent ourselves, for ourselves.

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