I started blogging here on January 6, 2019.
I planned to post on January 6, 2021 to celebrate two years of thinking aloud in this space.
I planned to speak of the posts turned into commentaries, the posts that paved the way to articles, or those that reverberate in the pages of my forthcoming Lessons from Plants book.
I planned to thank those who have interacted with me on topics raised here for contributing to my ponderings, reflections, the written offerings I’ve attempted to produce therefrom.
Then it was the January 6, 2021.
I like so many others of you watched as white supremacists attempted to (continue to) impose their will at all costs. Many here in America and abroad responded by saying this is not America. Others who know the truth of American history, said and know otherwise.
Many—here in America and around the globe—said that our truths were being laid bare and that now we would deal with these truths. They said we “have to” do so.
Many voiced a similar sentiment about the racial “reckoning” that (purportedly) emerged in the wake of the highly visible murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Some of these same people spoke the names of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other before and since. Some of us watched this “reckoning” with hopes that it would really live up to the definition rather than being a simple “recognition” that we’ve seen in past instances.
Throughout 2020, we collectively spoke about the truths laid bare concerning the intersection of systemic racism in America and public health as we watched COVID-19 ravage our nation as a whole; yet, having a significantly greater impact on Indigenous, Black and Latine communities across the nation.
I’ve thought a lot about the power of truths laid bare—more so that ever in the past year or more.
Common lore would have us believe that there is SIGNIFICANT power in truths laid bare.
I’m not so certain this alone is true.
Truths laid bare must be accompanied by accountability and consequences for their transgression, and there must be real action to deal with the truths and their impacts once they are laid bare.
In the absence of a real and expeditious trajectory for addressing the truths that have been exposed through tangible and material ways, the baring of truths alone can lead to repeated trauma, eroded trust, depletion of hope.
Truths laid bare in the absence of action and reconciliation are equivalent to continuing to open and close a wound without providing adequate cleansing and treatment after opening and before re-closing.
The thing that I am grappling with—successfully some days and woefully unsuccessfully on others—is where the “cleansing and treatment” are for the multiple wounds that have been opened in the wake of COVID-19, our most recent national encounter with racial “reckoning”, and other gaping wounds that sit unattended or worse yet closed from view and allowed to continue to fester.
Public or solidarity statements are not cleansing nor treatment.
Committees that produce conversation and policies on paper in the absence of real commitment of resources and REAL action are not cleansing nor treatment.
Hiring leaders who espouse commitments to cleansing and treatment, yet have limited evidence of lived commitments to cleansing and treatment are not the answer. Without a commitment to move beyond espoused to a firm-footed existence in lived commitments, we’ll only persist in a different version of inequality and mistruths.
Truths laid bare hold little to no power in isolation.
Truths laid bare must be powerfully coupled to bold values-driven leadership, collective commitment, real accountability, and so much more to hold power.
We need truths laid bare, yet to avoid repetitive trauma to those whose harm, mis-valuing, and proverbial and literal deaths are exposed in the telling of truths, we have to get beyond congratulating ourselves on telling truths and get to work on dealing with—and ultimately cleansing and healing—what’s been exposed by the truths told.
The latter is where the power of “truths laid bare” resides.
If you have comments on this post, as always find me on Twitter—@BerondaM.