‘Our conditioning as white people only sees white history’

Published: 2/6/2020 9:01:30 AM
Modified: 2/6/2020 9:01:20 AM

I support the initiative to change the state flag and seal. It’s important that our symbols reflect the lived history of this place and a vision for the future that will help shift our culturally conditioned worldviews so that regenerative possibilities can emerge.

As a white person inhabiting territory that’s been inhabited by Algonquian Peoples for 18,000 years, two apparently contradictory ideas are true: blameless yet responsible. I’ve inherited an unjust situation which I had no part in creating and I benefit from that injustice, so am responsible for finding another way forward.

Our conditioning as white people only sees white history.

Removing the offensive parts of our symbols is important; so is placing an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants on them.

Germany made visible the Jewish genocide after the Holocaust by placing plaques where Jews were captured. The painful history is noticed, grieved, and remembered, so it’s never repeated.

We can also make visible the native genocide and open another way forward. With climate change, the mistakes of our white mind set, rooted in man’s dominion over nature, don’t serve us. Acknowledging indigenous wisdom at this historical moment is crucial. Our relationship with the climate depends on it.

Betsy L. Ames

Amherst


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