We sought out young visionaries to help us imagine a new way of relating to each other and the world
Visionary: Naima Dobbs, Senior Africana Studies at NYU
I always feared my teachers’ disapproval when walking museum halls as a young girl. I viewed such institutions as sites of judgment. I thought of places like schools, museums, churches, and even certain stores as altruistic emblems of morality and goodness. I thought that I needed to make myself “good enough” to not only belong in these spaces but to feel welcomed by them.
I believed my schools to possess a certain merit that absolved them of wrongdoing and veiled me from the harmful practices that often took place on an institutional level.
As I’ve grown older, this veil of disillusionment, which is archaically thick in the US, disappeared before my eyes. The institutions that once towered over me in their supposed merit have become rather hollow shells of white supremacist efforts. Many of these institutions, healthcare included, are mere extensions of the same system that has intentionally deprived and excluded people for centuries.
They tricked me into believing their standards were the ultimate and their invasively corrective presence was natural. Curriculum itself has been designed to erase the truth about our violent history, a truth that would invalidate many systems if it were acted upon, or even just known more widely. The oppressors have amassed their strength through our annihilation. However, the more informed we become on this truth, the heavier it becomes until it one day topples everything.
My sense of self has fortified with the knowledge that I can never be rightfully judged by systems established on the bloodiest of terms. I heal my past wounds knowing now that this knowledge can never be taken from me, and it lights a fire that is steady and unwavering. I lend this message to hopefully alleviate the false pressure we often place on ourselves to ‘measure up’.
I believe it’s time for new systems of measurement entirely.
P.S. There’s More
- The podcast Nice White Parents about building a better school system
- A list of Black Owned Art Galleries in the U.S.
- “Our Imagined World” Letter from the editor by Nomi Leasure