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Daily Verse 11.15.20—Things I Didn’t Know

It’s true what they say, I think, about the longer you live, the more you realize you don’t know. I wouldn’t have believed that in my 20s. But then again, I thought I knew everything back then. There is a certain humility that comes with age that I have found to be quite liberating.

I’ve taken to keeping a list, actually, of everything I discover I don’t know, and it’s a sizable one, given that it’s only been six months. It was born out of the anti-racism work I’ve been doing with other white women in my community in my time at The Beach—throwing myself into racial literacy, understanding whiteness, and learning how systemic racism works and has been baked into the country we’ve become.

Having had twenty years of formal education (not including Kindergarten), I don’t consider myself a stupid person, even as I struggled mightily with standardized testing and how we measure smarts in our educational system. Most people know me to be a creative person, calling me an artist. Some know that I also love to geek out on behavioral science and theories of change. But few know that for many years, history (or should I say “history”) was my favorite subject, and even my major in college for a couple of years.

But in the last six months, I have been gobsmacked by the list of things I didn’t know about our past in this country—which is decidedly different than the history we are taught. Things like Tulsa, Juneteenth, Roseland, Respectability Politics, Shirley Chisholm, The Red Summer, Angela Davis, The Great Nadir, Eugenics, Corbin, “Race Science”, ALEC, The Colonial Project, CCA, Code Switching, Food Deserts, Assata Shakur, Sandra Bland, and weaponized discomfort.

The more I acknowledge how little I actually know about this country—how it was built and how it currently operates—the more I am inspired to learn. But this time I’m learning from people of color, primarily the stories and experiences of Black women—to get the truth I didn’t get in school. When I liberate my mind from the confines of what it has been taught, I feel like I’m a part of making history, not repeating it.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.