Where’s the Integrity?

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Awake
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A few social media discussions have made me think long and hard (in a positive way) about “our story” – our place as a particular group of humans, in the world. These stories can usually be grouped into categories related to race, culture, religion, or status. Why? Because that’s how most humans are grouped. Why are they even grouped? Ah, that’s an age old question. I suppose it’s because most want to be around people who are similar or like themselves in some way, shape or form. It also may be as a result of how our living arrangements are set up – we may be raised in communities surrounded only by those who look and sound and appear to be just like us physically. But I digress…

So what does “our story” have to do with integrity? Some people who watch historical programs such as documentaries and movie adaptations have been asking, “Is it done with integrity?” Or, it the integrity of the storytelling and recounting complete, in that it doesn’t remove the negative aspects of a story? To which I have been responding in messages and thinking here, now…”Is there ever truly, integrity?”. When your oppressors and those responsible for systemic oppression for decades and generations are the narrators of say, American history, in school textbooks and in historical accounts, is there integrity in that? Why is there so much need for one hundred percent accuracy and integrity when a minority group tells their story?

Of course, bold faced lies are to be avoided when recounting history. However, that’s not the case in many historical texts in many countries. The bad somehow gets prettied up to become more palatable for those telling it and reading it. Why are those texts throughout history not taken to task for lacking integrity? One example of a book recently taken to task for being inaccurate in the U.S. was A Birthday Cake for George Washington. There are more, but sadly, not that many.

One that is awesomely and most spectacularly timed though, is this recent social media debate and many google searches asked whether Alexander Hamilton was black. The color kerfluffle stems from the grammy win for the Best Musical Theater Album, in which the main character, Alexander Hamilton, of the hit Broadway play, “Hamilton” is not white.

Many accounts pegged Hamilton as the son of a mixed race woman. However, most of these accounts agreed that he was ashamed, or at least hid well, his heritage. Of course, as with any award show, and especially one with ignorant people wanting to remind of their white history, many they lit up the twittersphere and booko’face-land with tweets and posts criticizing the cast of the musical and arguing that no one knew for sure that Alexander Hamilton was of black lineage. Why? The historical accounts and narrators of official textbook Hamilton stories omitted that piece of information.

So all of this talk of “integrity” makes me wonder: Does omitting a piece of a historical story mean the story lacks integrity?

I guess that depends on how integral to the story or how the premise of the re-telling was shaped. Is that determination subjective in nature so that even that simple sounding statement becomes a more complex question?

Maybe that old saying is true – History  belongs to the narrator – whomever is lucky enough to write it or tell it. Everyone else just has to trust that what they’re reading and being told is accurate. Or take everything with that proverbial grain of salt. Yeah, I think that’ll be my approach. A grain of salt, or several…on the rim of a glass…filled with tequila!

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Comments
  1. Leyland7659 says:

    I’d say take both glasses and then some. Denial or reconstruction will always be there because it works.

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