#309: Better Likelihoods

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Garden in black and white
North La Salle, Detroit, MI

I would not be here if not for Black activists. This is no hyperbole. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 included the Fair Housing Act, which banned housing discrimination on the basis of race and nationality. Without it, in all likelihood, I wouldn’t have been able to purchase the house I currently live in, the house that I write to you about almost every week.

My parents, in all likelihood, would not have been able to purchase their home in Michigan. And without the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which, as Gene Yang pointed out at last week’s KidLit4BlackLives rally, was fought for and won by Black civil rights leaders, in all likelihood we would not have even emigrated to this country. Let me be clear: Black lives matter. And I, as someone who is Chinese American, owe a debt to Black Americans.

I’ve thought of this newsletter as an opportunity for respite. A way both for me, and you, to reflect on the week that’s passed and re-energize for the week ahead. I know you are probably inundated with messages and calls to action, so I’ll save my thoughts on more-sustainable actions for the weeks to come.

For now, I’m remembering the words engraved at the entrance of the National Archives in Washington DC, the words misattributed to Thomas Jefferson but for certain voiced—or at least written—by Ida B. Wells in her autobiography:

ETERNAL VIGILANCE IS THE PRICE OF LIBERTY

Creating better likelihoods for Black Americans—and by extension for America as a whole—is a lifelong process. Pace yourself.