Until All the Stories Are Told
April 12, 2017
"Julie," as performed by @Rhiannon Giddens captures the essence of a principle - that two people living in the same time and in close proximity, can experience history and events from entirely different perspectives. It shows the blindness that comes through our own prejudicial filters of reality. What was a threat for the mistress, was liberation for the slave.
The mistress thought that Julie would see things her way. She thought Julie would feel a loyalty and sense of home in the slave-holder's house that defied logic and humanity.
She should have been grateful, thought the mistress, even though her children had been sold and her life had been sub-scripted by the evil institution of slavery. Mistress thought that somehow, she would play the game and remain a slave.
We should consider that the same history that makes us teary-eyed with nostalgia and pride may be a reminder of generational pain, bitter pills, and dehumanization for others.
Julie responds with grace and kindness in this song, but also with firmness and determination to accept her liberation and to write her own version of history that includes the truth of her suffering and that of her family. She sings to tell the story until her story becomes inseparable from the larger story.
Until the American legacy can tell all the truth from all the perspectives and include lament and repentance, we cannot all sing the same song. There is something valuable and noble in every story that, if it is ever brought into the one large story, will elevate that story so that we can all embrace it.
There is a greatness to America that transcends our prejudices, misconceptions, generational sins, misguided conquests, and blindness to one another. Like the dark ink we try to paint over, it bleeds through in the principles that the original conveyors neither fully understood nor applied.
Their words, taken beyond their limited narrative, are potent with a truth that is yet to be fully recognized. The America we dream of is still in process.
Julie, as portrayed by Rhiannon Giddens, was ready to embark on a journey of realizing her piece of that and nothing was going to hinder her.
Some of us need to do more listening and less talking. Others need to take the stage and tell their stories until all stories are told.
Read another review here.