LETTER

The Truest Eye

OHF Newsletter, Vol 1 No 18

Our Human Family
Aug 10 · 5 min read
Toni Morrison, 1931–2019

There’s no denying it: we lived through an emotionally brutal seven days. What with mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, followed by the death of iconic author of the Black experience and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, and sprawling ICE raids across Mississippi, leaving hundreds of children to fend for themselves on the first day of school — yes, it’s been a hell of a week in America. Let’s face it, people. We’re seeing freshly fertilized, unearthed parts of our nation for what they truly are: hatred.

This week’s Our Human Family articles review the country’s history of racist rhetoric, take an intimate look at the personal impact racial prejudice and exclusion have on the lives of Black women, and review our editorial raison d’être.


New This Week

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

For white women, normative culture facilitates their lives much like water for fish; leaving women of color w/life experiences resembling those of fish out of water. In True Inclusiveness: A Black Woman’s Point of View,” Lecia Michelle, explores a vision of a society in which Black women are fully included. As a Black man, this essay delivered a gut punch that left me recoiling with deeper insights into the struggles unique to my female family members, friends, and acquaintances.

Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace standing against desegregation while being confronted by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach at the University of Alabama in 1963. By Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine — Rotated, perspective corrected, histogram adjusted, and cropped version of Image: Governor George Wallace stands defiant at the University of Alabama.jpg, Public Domain, Wikimedia.org

One might assume this week’s public display of racial animus directed at Latinx communities in Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi are out of character for America, but Michael Greiner, Assistant Professor of Management (Legal and Ethical Studies) at Michigan’s Oakland University, shows racist rhetoric is nothing new to our country’s affairs of state in his first OHF article, A Brief History of Race in American Politics.”

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Earlier this week we received an email from a longtime OHF reader which resonated with me for several reasons. Out of humility and to keep the correspondence under wraps, I posted an “open” editorial response. Unfortunately, my attempt at modesty only stoked curiosity as to the contents of the letter in several readers. Well, be curious, no more. Behold, the contents of the letter (reproduced with the author’s expressed approval below) . . . and for those of you who missed the editorial, voilà!

Wow! I am continually and increasingly impressed with this newsletter and especially this magazine! The professionalism of the outlay, the depth of the content and the editorial integrity are of a quality seldom found anymore. Such thought obviously goes into each issue, maybe each word!

I am not sure that anyone other than Clay Rivers could have pulled this off, frankly. I have followed him since I joined Medium years ago. His ability to transcend the bounds that tie most of us to our comfortable but very carefully crafted separate spaces has always amazed me. In this magazine, he creates an inviting space for everyone and extends his always gracious command: love one another. Long before there was an Our Human Family, I read along as Mr. Rivers slowly but surely and always kindly helped people choose to change, to find empathy, to heal. Sometimes I felt he was wasting his time. Instead, people changed. And years later, I see a couple of these changed hearts writing for Our Human Family.

I am not in a hopeful place in regards to our country’s ability to rise to the lofty tenets of our Declaration of Independence. “Outloud” racism, xenophobia and worse come from the Oval Office and the US Congress. Facts don’t matter, anymore.

I fear we may lose more than we know due to our inability to cope with, even admit to the truth of our history. Yet, until we are honest about the past, especially about the white supremacy built into our institutions since the 1st laws were written in precolonial Virginia, we will not even agree on a starting place to heal. We avoid, dissemble, blame and refuse to search for empathy or truth. We seem too small to believe that all are created equally when once I believed we were too big for the idea of America to be defeated. I despair the impending loss of our liberal democratic Republic…then I read Our Human Family: if only everyone would!

Our Human Family offers something unique: palatable presented hard truth with an invitation to all to seek healing. Thanks to the guiding hand and heart of Clay, I believe the content could lead us to MLK’s dream and cause us all to truly work together for freedom and justice for all. Hyperbolic praise? I don’t think so. I suspect that if Our Human Family were mandatory reading, we might do even more and love one another.

Thanks Medium for providing a platform for this intelligent and important read.

Colette Clarke Torres
Austin, TX


Pre-Postscripts

OHF presents different perspectives on pertinent topics to foster conversation. We believe exposure and awareness are the starting points for change. Want to start a conversation with friends or family? Share any of our articles via Medium, Twitter, or Facebook and talk about it. Remember, it’s not your job to win anyone over in a single conversation. Simply exposing people to different points of view in and of itself is a positive step in the direction of change.


Final Thoughts

Toni Morrison truly saw us for who we are and brilliantly, searingly, unflinchingly wrote it all down — our glory, our ignominy, our potential, our fears, and our hopes. She broke open the hearts and lifted the spirits of everyone who had the honor of basking in the glow of her works.

Political talk show host and author Joy Anne Reid said it best, Toni . . . was to writing what Aretha was to music. Rest in power, Toni.

Love one another.

Clay Rivers
Our Human Family, Founder and Editorial Director

Our Human Family

Conversations on achieving equality

Our Human Family

Written by

The editors of OUR HUMAN FAMILY. “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” –Maya Angelou

Our Human Family

Conversations on achieving equality

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade