As a school child during the ‘cold’ war era, I and my counterparts were fully indoctrinated to believe that any day America could be bombed. The bombing drills, our bodies crouched against the walls of school PS 175 with hands covering our heads, will forever be etched in my mind. We were taught and therefore believed that the Soviet Union was the enemy, and communism the devil. This shaped our culture (economic, social, and political). True or false, founded or unfounded, the prevailing narrative is everything. Similarly, It was the promotion of the idea that the “election was stolen” narrative that fueled the January 6 riots at the Capital. The battle is for power is essentially the battle of the narrative. For who controls the narrative, controls the people, and often history.
In the past weeks, it has become clear that the great American battle for equality and justice is about control. Color, race, gender, and sexuality are convenient tools to separate and generate discord and animosity. While the “work-a-day” population is playing hunger games, fighting inflation, and offering thoughts and prayers for those AR-15ed innocents, those in power continue to promote laws, ways and means that strip the rest of us of our voice, our vote, and our potential victory.
They seek to control our lives, by controlling the narrative. Just a couple of weeks ago, we learned that the microphones of duly elected Tennessee representatives were turned off in an attempt to mute the voice of their constituents. When that didn’t work, the representatives took to the floor with a bullhorn to be heard. The response from the power group was to silence by expulsion, reportedly because rules of decorum were broken and they had entered the sacred well without permission. This rationale was the narrative of the power group of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The race card was also thrown in the ring (the white-skinned female representative was not expelled) to hopefully confuse, disorganize and pit the representatives and people against one another, and not the power chain.
The aim was to silence dissent and promote a narrative that suggested the brown-skinned representatives, the youthful representatives, were too rowdy, uncontrolled, and disruptive. Uncoincidentally, these are the same tags applied to brown-skinned boys in schools that set up the path to school expulsion.
Who controls the narrative controls the people.
We find today’s power group executing a national plan at the local level to ban books, to dictate and eliminate curriculums that are not consistent with their goals and narrative. They promote books that continue to cast them as superior to others. They ban books that change the status quo narrative and bring historical light, cultural diversity, diverse perspectives, inspiration, hope, and empowerment.
The fight for justice and equality is a fight for the true narrative. The true narrative incorporates the stories of all. The true narrative includes the gruesome and the great. The true narrative broadens the scope of historical perspective and tells an unfiltered story. The true narrative is multidimensional, multicultural, frightening, faulty, and fantastic altogether.
Let’s fight for, write for, read for, and stand for the true narrative.