(If you’re just here for the booklist, click HERE. Thanks! )
So I’ve been back in the US for a year now.
There’s a lot going on here at the moment, and a lot of America’s current problems are directly related to history. This isn’t a surprise to any thinking person. Our current hot button issues are not new. None of this fell out of the sky and little of it is solely due to individual choice, despite our cultural mythology. Our current systemic issues have their roots in history, and far too many of us don’t know the details of the past.
Worse, we don’t know how they affect us or those we know on an individual basis.
Take, for example, me, pictured above. On paper, I am a respectability politician’s dream. Well-educated, widely traveled, professional job, mostly responsible, hard working, etc. According to The Rules, I should be extremely successful.
Yet, I’m not. I don’t have access to wealth. I sound “foreign”. And I made the critical mistake of living outside of the system(abroad) for a long time.
As a result, I’ve been dealing with housing insecurity since I got back. I’ve gone from sublet to sublet, all ironically overpriced. Nobody will rent to me long-term, because in the current system I don’t exist in the right way, even if I have the income.
Now before we continue, I’m fine. I don’t mind subletting too much, although I really hope my next spot is mine. I’m also very aware that if I had kids or a different job or owned more things or was less able-bodied, I would not be fine. I’m even more aware that if I was connected to certain places, certain people, certain streams of finance, or looked and sounded a certain way, things would be very different.
My housing situation is not just my own, however. It has its roots in history. Residential segregation, credit invisibility, “soft” landlord prejudices–all of these have their roots in history that remains unaddressed. I’m fine because I have some small access to money. Countless others are not, and the situation is worsening because no one wants to admit its roots are deep.
And it’s like that for nearly every issue that is burning up America right now. The roots are deep and cannot be ignored when you try to pull the weeds.
So this month, read some real history.
To reiterate, I’m fine. I really hesitate to share personal issues online because a) internet strangers can be scary and b)a lot of very well-meaning people will pop up to offer very basic advice that assumes a certain level of ignorance and I cannot be bothered explaining myself to them, or anyone I don’t know in real life, to be honest. I didn’t post this to get attention about my housing situation–it’s not ideal, but I’m safe and housed, albeit annoyed at having to pack and move every 4 months or so.
I posted this to point out that the consequences of history on present systems are personal, not just intellectual. I posted it to hopefully encourage people to look at the roots, not just the weed, and to have grace with people living in the weeds because many of the inequities in the US have personal consequences, but impersonal causes that nobody is addressing. Read some real history. Find out what legacies may be affecting you, and those you know, without your knowledge.
If you need some suggestions, as always there is a booklist on my Bookshop page. Here’s where I usually make a jokey disclaimer about how I earn a commission off of any books bought at that link and use it to buy more books, but this time, it’ll be used to pay for my next move. TIA. Now, go read something good!