How might we disrupt false histories?

As we seek to build a more equitable future, we must face the truth of our history and disrupt false narratives.

When it comes to racism and inequity, the past is present. History is a story and that story needs to be retold and reinterpreted, not by a singular voice, but collectively. We need to see ourselves and each other more clearly. We need to repair harms. We need to heal. We need radical new ways of working together. We need to imagine, nurture, and grow a new America in which all people and communities feel powerful, joyful, connected, and whole. We need a reckoning.

Year of Reckoning vision

Year of Reckoning storytellers

Reckoning With Race:

A Storytelling Initiative

Hafizah Omar and Alyssa Smaldino

Ending White Supremacy Culture: A Resource for Reckoning With History

Megan McGlinchey and Alyssa Smaldino

500 Years of the Racial

Wealth Gap: A Timeline

Alyssa Smaldino and Hafizah Omar

Organizing for Racial

Justice: A Timeline

Sample Agenda for Disrupting False Histories

As you gather with your team or group, the agenda below can serve as a template that you are encouraged to refine and adapt to your needs.

Prior to our session, we printed the Racial Wealth Gap and Organizing timelines as 9’ posters. You can find printable versions in this post.

Start with a check-in that grounds people in art and creativity. We used the prompt below, but our check-in resource has more options. 1. Check-in:

- Look at Julie Mehretu’s artwork, Stadia II, and Conjured Parts (eye) - Read how Mehretu describes her work: “Mehretu has described her rich canvases as ‘story maps of no location,’ seeing them as pictures into an imagined, rather than actual reality. Through its cacophony of marks, her work seems to represent the speed of the modern city depicted, conversely, with the time-aged materials of pencil and paint.” - Thinking about Mehretu's term “story maps of no location,” each participant draw your own story map. - Participants share their story maps with each other 2. Explore the historical timelines, either in person or virtually. Using post-its, add to the timelines with: - Historical events that you think were important to the creation of the racial wealth gap and/or efforts to organize for racial justice - Your personal and ancestral histories (e.g. when/ how did your ancestors come to the US, what were the policies and events that caused them to gain or lose wealth, etc) - Your organizational histories (e.g. when/ why was your organization founded, what has it done to contribute to the widening or closing of racial gaps, etc)

3. Participants share reflections on this experience. After you go through this activity together, be sure to give people space to grieve and process. The history of racism is heavy. Many participants will need a break after this. Also consider taking a few collective breaths, stretching together, or encouraging people to step outside for a breath of fresh air.

The posters below were developed by Dawn Begay and Michelle Melendez from the City of Albuquerque as part of their New Mexico Indigenous Curriculum.


Additional resources for learning from history and undoing racism

Learning from History

History is a tool for effective organizing. Understanding the lessons of history allows us to create a more humane future. (PISAB)

Undoing Racism®

Racism is the single most critical barrier to building effective coalitions for social change. Racism has been consciously and systematically erected, and it can be undone only if people understand what it is, where it comes from, how it functions, and why it is perpetuated. (PISAB)