About this Project
The primary goal of “400 Years” is to help deconstruct white racial privilege and racism as it arises in hearts, minds, but most of all systems. While my anti-racism efforts arises in much of my work outside of this project, especially in social justice and interfaith coalitions, this project has a more narrow goal. In particular, I hope to rally people who identify as white, as I do, and who accept that racism gives them privileges, as I do, to take make the following public commitment: I commit to deconstruct white privilege and white supremacy more consistently, concretely, and constructively in ourselves and our country.
Those who make this commitment on this website will be invited to share the concrete steps they take over the remainder of this 400th anniversary year, and perhaps beyond.
Much of this work must begin with the voices of people of color. In my work, however, I have been guilty of something many whites do: they start by asking their colleagues or friends of color for advice. Many people of color are tired of being the victims of racism and asked to solve racism. As a result, I am encouraging people to access the wisdom found in countless historical writings from slave narratives to peer reviewed articles to award winning historical works, many of them written by people of color.
While I often use the term “people of color,” this project will focus mainly on how racism in the United States has hurt Blacks in America. While non-whites from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East are often brutal victims of racism, my knowledge, training, and experience is more connected to Black victims of white supremacy.
Origins of the Project
25 years of teaching U. S. History to high school students instilled in me a commitment to racial justice. I continue to be struck by the all-pervasive nature of racism in this country. I believe that current racial tensions are due to the depth and of the roots of racism that too often remain hidden.
For the 10 years after my teaching, racial justice has been at the center of my work as an Ethical Humanist Leader in Baltimore and Philadelphia. I have been inspired to work for social justice by the authors, social scientists, historians, colleagues and friends of color. As the 400th anniversary of people from Africa being brought against their will to the British colonies approached, I wanted to do more to address the increase in systemic injustice, bigotry, and white supremacy.
For this project, I will write weekly 400-word blog posts about various aspects of history that might help motivate anti-racism action. I will offer 400 “lessons” drawn from the blogs. I will compile an annotated bibliography of sources for further learning. I will collect at least 400 commitments from 400 people to confront systemic racism more directly in their lives. I will offer ways that you can share the concrete action you are taking with others who make the commitment. Hopefully you will find support and encouragement through this website to support your anti-racism efforts.