image: from The Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society
HistoricIndianapolis.com was conceived to contribute to the local community by creating new points of connection from old places, people and events. Since this website primarily focuses on the built environment and local events through the lens of history, the bulk of the stories are those of white people. When the majority of people are white, the money, power, influence, government, culture and society is constructed to serve white people.
As with every other city in the United States, the majority of the history books, periodicals, resources, and stories are dominated by the lives and experiences of white people. Those are by no means the only stories, but inevitably, the most visible, retold, and “accepted” ones. That includes here.
That is but one of the infinite components of this country’s structure that has created a culture of systemic racism, taken for granted and often unnoticed by white people. It isn’t right, and it should have been undone long ago. In June 2020, this country may finally be ready to make some long overdue changes that will lead to greater equality, and we unequivocally support those efforts.
Though this website does have a number of stories about or including people of color, there could and should be more. Not just because that’s the PC thing to do right now, but because of personal interest in black history, the fascinating stories yet to be told, and the opportunity to educate. Sadly, many stories will never be told because they were never captured in the first place. However, when we resume publishing new articles to this website, we will research and publish with a greater focus on diversity and inclusivity–including stories of other minorities as well.
As lovers of history, we need to understand the whole story, not just through the myopic lens of white wealthy narratives. We have started and will maintain a “Reading List” of historical / non-fiction books that may help build a better understanding of what lead us to this national inflection point.
I welcome other suggestions of historic books, as well as input from the black community for potential future stories.
Because we all have room for growth and improvement, for a start, I personally am doing a lot of listening and reading; I am examining where and how I can do better; learning where I can make greater contributions towards equity for people of color and adjusting accordingly. I encourage—even implore you—HI readers, to find your own way to help make our future history books something we can be prouder of—by helping make our culture more equitable for people of color.
I will use my white privilege where I can to help lift the voices of others who deserve the same. Let’s open our hearts and minds, get curious, and get to work.
Tiffany Benedict Browne, Founder Historic Indianapolis.com
Suggested Reading List (as of 6/8/2020)
The Red Record – Ida B. Wells-Barnett (available online)-Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States, 1895.
The Black 100 – Columbus Salley – a compilation of 100 most influential African-Americans of all time, giving short biographies on those 100 individuals. 1998.
Stamped From the Beginning – Ibram X. Kendi -a definitive history of racist ideas in America. 2016.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson – the decades long migration of blacks from the south in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.
White Trash. The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America – Nancy Isenberg – An exploration of class and color and how the two connect and collide.
The Blood of Emmett Till – Timothy B. Tyson. 2017. – The murder of a 14 year-old boy visiting family in Mississippi tortured, mutilated and murdered by white men after supposedly whistling at a white woman.