I won’t lie to you - this will break something
in you, a dam constructed by generations of
your ancestors to hold back the horror.
You will find bits of their heart in the mortar,
pieces broken off and placed between
bricks like prayers for safe-keeping.
This work is a pickaxe. It strikes at the core of you.
It begins, slowly at first, then all at once a deluge of
greed and blood, stones coated with the best intentions,
which mistook stepping on the backs - the necks -
of brown bodies for survival. The torrent destroys the tale
you were told about your family, your people, the way
the world works, and whose sweat lubricates the machinery.
When the flood waters recede, there is only a plain
of pieces which need putting back together. We can
only survive without a story, a structure, something that
makes sense for so long. There is infinite potential
in reconstruction. Creativity is possible if it weren’t so
damn overwhelming. There is richness to be found
in the destruction, a fertility that comes when
truth can no longer be held at bay.
Sink your hands into the unplumbed history
of your earthen soul, find the secrets
buried there: your great grandmother’s Gaelic tongue,
the name your German family traded for one softer and
more palatable, the thousand small ways your people
cloaked themselves in whiteness and bequeathed it to you,
marking you same and robbing you of your roots
in their story. You have a role in the lineage now.
It is equal parts reclamation and restoration. Wade in
to the mud, dig deep. Give them back what they buried
in the name of safety. They need it back - to recover, to rest,
to restore them. They need it and so do you.
Author Mallory Everhart on Twitter: @MalloryEverhart
We are white cultural workers who believe our own freedom is intertwined with the struggle against white supremacy.