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Educate yourself and then speak out: Letter

Educate yourself and then speak out: Letter

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The dual dynamics of COVID-19, with disproportionate impact on lower income and people of color, and George Floyd’s murder, presents a harsh reckoning with “the truth” this July 4th. The Declaration of Independence second paragraph contains the familiar line we so love to claim:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

This year the truths that are self-evident are very uncomfortable.

The 1619 Project, a project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019, re-examines the legacy of slavery in the United States. This history lesson will keep you awake at night. Unfortunately, the realities are not bygone; they are very much in our midst today. The country, indeed the world, has had its collective blinders ripped off and we are paying attention in a way we haven’t for a long time. So, what to do about it?

First and foremost, take a hard and honest look at the legacy of slavery and racism in the United States; educate yourself.

Second, speak up – to your family, to friends, to elected officials, to your community. Speak up for an Iowa that has time and time again stood up proudly and boldly for civil rights. Any of us, including myself, who benefit from “white privilege”, the societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, are complicit with our nation’s legacy of racism if we don’t wake up, educate ourselves, listen to the uncomfortable truths, and begin to take effective and appropriate action.

This July 4th – the real celebration just might be reckoning with the truths that are so self-evident.

Jan Libbey, Kanawha


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