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The Asterisk and A Comprehensive Truth


Tell the whole truth without an asterisk. In 2020, we hear “it’s the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave American women the right to vote.” If people were to tell the story completely, they would say, “2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which gave white American women the right to vote.” Telling the story correctly from the beginning builds credibility. Otherwise, you are telling the story with an asterisk at the end of a sentence. The asterisk interrupts the flow of reading. You have to pause, go look for the asterisk’s explanation at the bottom of the page (at the end of the chapter, at the end of the article/book) and readjust your understanding based on the additional information the explanation provided. Without the asterisk, I then interrupt and correct you to make sure that you include the rest of the story. Back to our voting example, Black American women, Asian American women and Native American women were not granted the right to vote in 1920. When I interrupt the story to force you to consider inclusivity, it seems like I have an issue. In reality, you have the issue by telling a half-truth, but your anger is then redirected to me. You are upset/embarrassed that I interrupted you. You are stuck on intent versus impact (you didn’t intend to leave anyone out). You become upset thinking I am minimizing the accomplishment of white women which is not true. I am in fact demanding accountability for a comprehensive truth.


What if we told the whole truth in the beginning? What if the story is told that in 1920 all women from all races worked together and fought for the right to vote, but only white women were granted that privilege? You would build credibility for telling the whole truth which is STILL worth celebrating. But it also offers a space to reflect on the ugly part of the story...even though women of all races fought together, everyone did not equally benefit from the fight. Learning also occurs when you sit in that uncomfortable and comprehensive truth. Learning occurs as you process through the full story. As I shared in my book, I Am That One Black Friend: Lessons From A Magical Unicorn, telling the full story redeems our humanity. Tell the whole truth without an asterisk.


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