Oddly, I’ve had people question my first decade of memories. The photographic evidence of the first ten years of my life may have been manufactured, but from 1960 to 1970, the incident of photoshop was fairly low. This means that if my life before desegregation is falsified, there’s a vast conspiracy to paint this part of history in hues that are sharply black and white. I’ve heard sillier conspiracy theories in the last few years and it would seem that the only thing for a conspiracy to gain followers is for it to have no merit in fact whatsoever.
Stop for a moment and consider the Flat Earth Society. You and I both know how stupid this is, I would think, yet you also have to know there are some people who truly believe it. Consider how crazy it is to believe something discredited before people believed in Christ. Somehow, people forgot this was a fact, and decided to thank Magellan for proving the earth was round, and the fable that Columbus braved falling off the edge of the earth was born. It took a while, but now there are people who are once again telling other people the earth is not round, and you have to wonder why they value that narrative.
I’ve had people question my memory. They should. Memory is both fallible and it is malleable. If I was one person telling my story then it ought to be questioned harshly. Or, if there were many facts that were out of kilter about my story, or if my story could not be compared to others like it, yes, then it should be doubted. After all, I was ten years old.
Yet you cannot deny that you, and everyone you know, have memories of childhood, shared memories of childhood, and the first year of desegregation in Blakely Georgia was a terrible thing. There were still separate waiting rooms at Doctor’s Offices. There were still restaurants (with black cooks) who would only serve whites. There were events that were canceled forever, pools that closed, and things that simply ceased to exist before the powers that be allowed them to be anything but what they always had been.
Somehow, at some point in history, we lost the fact that the earth is round. We invented stories about a sailor who went against all everyone else knew to discover a New World, where civilization began anew in the wilderness. We now know all of that is a lie that there were already people who knew the earth was round, and the New World had been inhabited by human beings for thousands of years, and they were not Indians.
Yet even today, knowing that we know about the genocide Columbus started, we still have a holiday named in his honor, and now there are people who believe the earth is flat again.
There’s value in ignorance. Or rather there’s value in an ignorant population. Ignorant people can be more easily led, made to believe things without those people doing any research on the subject, and they’ll accept less because they know less than people who have knowledge and skill. Educating people will equalize them, which is why desegregation was fought against so very hard for so very long.
That’s why there are people who want to doubt my story. Because if they can convince other people it wasn’t that way, then they can erase knowledge of those times and if they can do that… where will it end, do you think?
The Holocaust Deniers are running out of eyewitnesses to confront them. The Flat Earthers are using computer-generated photos to prove their point. And there are people who tell me I did not witness my first ten years because it wasn’t really all that bad.
There’s value in that narrative, but the people who are looking to educate fewer Americans, or making it harder for Americans to be educated, are working against America.
I remember them doing it before.