Follow the Narratives or the Facts – An Inconvenient Truth vs. A Reassuring Lie

Follow the Narratives or the Facts – An Inconvenient Truth vs. A Reassuring Lie

By Charles Rein – 7/27/22

Sometimes we overlook facts, getting swept away by words and emotions. Do you remember the childhood story of “Br’er Rabbit and the Briar Patch?” In that tale, Br’er Fox who was thrilled with finally having caught Br’er Rabbit, was deciding how to punish him. Br’er Rabbit pleaded, “Br’er Fox, I don’t care what you do with me, as long as you don’t throw me into that briar patch over there…” This is known as “reverse psychology.” You can guess what happened.

We can also be swept away when we’re emotional. We may ignore research, forget to investigate our opposition’s arguments, and we end up on the losing side. Sometimes we are triggered over certain words.

Do you believe words create images, maybe even narratives? Let’s look into that hypothesis… but first let’s take a commercial break. Your brain deserves a 30 second calming commercial.

Perhaps like me, your brain has been targeted too much by the news regarding the recent mass shootings. Your sanity can only take so much. Inhale, close your eyes … but somehow keep reading.

Picture yourself, or your lovely spouse, on a sandy beach. Delight your ears with the rhythmic sound of the cool ocean waves. Now imagine feeling the salt water lapping over your toes, the palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. No, this isn’t Hawaii. It’s America’s possible fifty-first state if leading Democrats get their way. Can you picture it? Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Well, the other side of the story is this possible 51st state is also filled with 45 percent  unemployment, power outages, drug problems and enough car jackings to make you believe you’re in San Francisco. It has SF-high crime, homelessness and addiction problems if you haven’t recently visited “the City by the Bay.”

A World Nomads writer stated his thoughts on Puerto Rico, as, “I’m from Chicago and I feel right at home there.”

Hmmm. I don’t think that’s much of a positive referral.

In addition, states that “if Puerto Rico were a state, it would be eligible for two Senate seats and five house seats.” Oh, yipee!

Well, this timely news issue has heard a bit of rumbling lately (just like my stomach when it misses both breakfast and lunch). In the news I’m hearing the term “decolonization” quite often.

If it’s true, that these words create images and in turn these images create narratives, let’s look at additional examples. Here are the words of the Biden administration which promises “to confront structural racism and inequality.” His words appeared in P.R. Lockhart’s (May 2021) NBC News article under the Racial Reckoning section. Lockhart wrote that:

“After decades of work from activists pushing the issue, presidential candidates, Congress members, local governments and private institutions have debated whether and how the federal government should issue reparations for Black Americans who are descendants of slaves …”

The article states there are a growing number of Democratic lawmakers who have “given their support to H.R. 40, a decades-old bill first introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in 1989. The bill would create a commission to study slavery and discrimination in the United States and potential reparations proposals for restitution.”

Isn’t Congress ignoring something?

First, as eloquently stated by black political commentator, author and talk show host Armstrong Williams who addressed the topic of reparations in an article in The Hill last spring, “How can all Americans in the 21st century be held financially responsible for the actions of a subset of Americans hundreds of years ago?”

Williams wrote, “An apology for slavery might help the country move on, but adding a price tag to that apology would be sheer folly. How could anyone ever calculate a cost for the long-term efforts of slavery? What criteria would be used to figure damages … Would individuals or families receive a one-time payout or would reparations be distributed over time? Would the money be distributed based on need, or would everyone receive the same amount? How could the involved parties ever agree on a dollar amount for the societal effects of slavery?”

Second, isn’t Congress also ignoring that of the 10 millions plus people kidnapped as slaves, only 388,000 –  a tiny percentage – were brought to North America? As a an interesting fact, slavery wasn’t abolished in Puerto Rico till 1898.

In the 2002 comedy film, “The Barbershop” there is a scene showing several black characters in a heated discussion. One man passionately argues against most of his friends opposing their attitude of giving free money to black people. Standing up to his friends, he shouts they already have affirmative action and welfare, is that not reparations enough?

Moving away from Hollywood humor to the article by Williams in March of 2021 titled, “Slavery reparations are a divisive waste of time” the author stated:

“Like most Americans, I am sickened by the the specter of slavery and understand the horrors it wreaked in African Americans generations ago … But to once again resurrect the idea of paying off a current generation of Black people for the sins committed by white people – and others – decades ago makes no sense at all. It is ridiculous.” He went on to say “The conversation over reparations will further divide Americans at a time when we more than ever need to come together.”

Illustrating this division, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst and WCVB television station poll conducted in April last year “nearly two-thirds of Americans and 90% of Republicans oppose the idea of providing reparations to the descendants of slaves …”

Near the conclusion of his article Williams states, “We know that American history is composed of the good, the bad and the ugly, so why continue to focus on the ugly? We must leave this horrendous chapter in the past, where it belongs…”

In addition to focusing on examples like possible Puerto Rican citizenship or financial slavery reparations, this article is a reminder that words are persuasive. Words can calm us down or ignite our tempers. If they fire us up, these red hot images can get us steamed, get us enraged, figuratively infect our brain and become our narratives. A series of words can create pictures which become our world. When we’re passionate, emotional and irate, it’s a challenge to re-question our view of society. It’s a double challenge to listen to someone holding an opposite view of the one we hold dear. While we may not be able to calm our bodies down in this 90 degree plus summer heat, we can learn to calm our minds down. Let’s try. Our nation’s future may depend on it.

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