• jdc

We Are Complicit

Originally posted on jaradeancoffey.com on November 5, 2021


Written the morning of November 5th at 4:30 AM in bed with Venus still bright in the sky and dawn starting to approach.

 
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
-Toni Morrison

This has been on my mind for months now. I have been writing and rewriting this in my head, trying to find an entry point and the right tone. Yesterday, I freed myself from this thinking as I more deeply understood how those expectations are ways in which I allow society to quiet me, make me more “nice” and permit me from speaking the truth as I see it.


Not today (Satan).


This is on us.


Those of us who purport that our work, our craft is to contribute to knowledge generation through research, evaluation, and learning are complicit in the US being this close to a white nationalist authoritarian federation of states.


By not interrogating and evolving core definitions in our work, we have been complicit in perpetuating narratives that allow one group, primarily white people, to assume superiority and deem all others as less than. In particular, this has impacted Black people whose bodies have been and continue to be bought, sold and killed, and at the same time, whose souls continue to provide this country with a heartbeat that at times is full of love, joy, promise, and community.


And if you are not white or Black, be clear that your civil, social, economic, and human rights are being eroded.


Our definitions of rigor, validity, and objectivity hide a belief system that whiteness is the ideal. Anything that complicates that storyline is often excluded or assigned less value and validity.

By not naming or interrogating what is implicit, we are generating knowledge through our efforts that is full of half truths - and in some cases - lies.

A tree filled with beatles

We have unquestioned that which we hold as core. We have engaged in the work of knowledge creation, drinking a cocktail of unearned authority mixed with a lack of humility. We have hidden behind methods, not even understanding the methodologies that inform them. And we aim for neutrality, as if that is laudable. The result is that we simply don’t understand what we need to as our sources of credibility and wisdom often reinforce the narratives and beliefs that are at odds with many strategies, programs, communications, and missions.


Lack of intention does not excuse us from harm. We have done harm.


Ours can be a noble pursuit, but only if it is in service of something noble.