This was a wonderful letter exchange — one of my favorites so far! As you can see, I’ve underlined extensively! I do believe that for most of the history of this country, the “national identity” was White and male (most often well off too). Everyone else was a kind of other. We still see vestiges of this in the media, where the vast majority of shows are about White men and their lives, and even in shows that are ostensibly about women, men still tend to have the same amount or more of the speaking lines.

The still relevant Bechdel Test (created in 1985), sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Most movies still do not meet this criteria. It wasn’t until the early 80s that advertising featured anything other than White people with the rare Black person. Other ethnicities were invisible. Ergo, only White men are the true citizens — a hold over from a time where this was literally the truth.

Until about the 1950s most Black families tried to become a part of that national identity by working hard, being respectable and demanding that their children be that way too so as to be acceptable to assimilate. When they saw that this made little difference in getting them respect or a real seat at the table, you began to get the Civil Rights Movement in full swing and Black Power movements seeking to find their own way forward, with or out without White mainstream approval.

I heartily agree that we need to keep looking for ways to cross the divides that have been put in place for us and hope that conversations like these can help to contribute to just that. ❤️

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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