‘If We Don’t Tell Our Stories, Someone Else Will’

by Vince

Leonard Pitts Jr. penned that concise quote in relation to Holocaust and Lynching survivor stories being rewritten by certain groups:

Israeli school kids, it turns out, often visit the death camp as a means of understanding the genocide that decimated their people. Learning this left me, not for the first time, impressed with the way Jews have institutionalized Holocaust education. A subject that was considered largely taboo into the 1970s has since become the object of manifold museums, memorials and oral histories.

As Maryla Korn, a survivor from Washington, once told the Washington Jewish Week newspaper, “Maybe by talking and telling our stories, we can restrain another little monster from coming up. How can you not talk?”

Her words stand in stark contrast to the responses I once received from two black women when I asked them to describe a lynching they witnessed in 1930.

“I try and put that behind me,” said Sarah E. Weaver-Pate. “I’d just rather forget that.”

These extremely deep stories are personal to each of those it involved. If and when they are ready to “talk about it”, they should be free to on their own terms. The other side of the coin tells me that these stories remain very personal and shouldn’t be touted as a trophy or forced to come out just to deflect fringe group claims.

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