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The Myth of Whiteness

One of the things we all have to face is how divided our country is. A common observation, perhaps. But when we dig into just how divided it is, and along what fault lines, the situation gets more and more disturbing. You can read about my personal experience with this topic here (Instagram) or here (Facebook).

To help clear away our collective stupor, along comes one of our clients, Christina Proenza-Coles, with a dose of reality to administer. In her book, American Founders, a 2019 Foreword INDIES finalist, Christina reminds us that whiteness is a myth that was invented to rationalize New World slavery and that obscures the seminal contributions of four centuries of men and women of African descent. Synthesizing massive amounts of scholarship, she details these people who were key protagonists in the story of American democracy: defending New World settlements, undermining slavery, and championing freedom throughout the hemisphere.



Our conventional founding narratives fail to recognize that Africans and their descendants preceded the English in the Americas by a century and arrived in numbers that far exceeded those of European migrants. African-descended people contributed to every facet of American history as explorers, conquistadors, settlers, soldiers, sailors, servants, slaves, rebels, leaders, lawyers, litigants, laborers, artisans, artists, activists, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, inventors, investors, merchants, mathematicians, scientists, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, generals, cowboys, pirates, professors, politicians, priests, poets, and presidents.

In other words, multiculturalism is not politically correct; it’s historically accurate. American history and African American history are fundamentally intertwined.

About Book Architecture, Christina says, American Founders was a labor of love, decades of research, and a lifetime of questions, but the first draft read like an encyclopedia with a somewhat ranting introduction and a rambling conclusion. Book Architecture was therapy for my book. Stuart refused to let me settle for an academic compendium of facts and continually challenged me to explain why these facts are meaningful. Because I trusted Stuart, I could answer his thoughtful prompts with honesty and finally—yes, I’m going to use the cliché—find my voice. If you don’t believe me, check out this clip of Wynton Marsalis reading from American Founders, which he selected as one of his top ten ‘compelling works on the subject of freedom.’”

Filed under: Clients Crushin' It

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