Anti-racism Resource: These Truths

Mike Van Dyke, DO, FAAP
Sacred Heart Representative – WCAAP Board of Trustees

I have a confession to make. I read and loved These Truths by Jill Lepore…but it took me over a year to finish. These Truths is an American history book. It is a lengthy book but it shouldn’t have taken me that long to finish. It starts with the very earliest origins of our country and takes the reader through to 2016 presidential election. The historical account focuses on many themes and tells our nation’s story in ways I was never taught in school. It is a fascinating and educational read. It is both a celebration of our history and a deep reflection. It took me so long to finish because at times it was painful. Sometimes I had to set it down for a week or maybe a month. I am a white male and Lepore describes historical account after historical account of men who looked like me systematically oppressing women and BIPOC at every level. I knew there were countless horrors in our nation’s past but I had conveniently left them unexamined, because it was easier for me. However, like an abscess left undrained, failure to examine our nation’s hurtful past will only delay recovery – or worse.

As I reflect over the past few years of my life I now realize These Truths was one of the resources that spurred me to confronting my role in white supremacy. There are many themes that Lepore explores but race and racism is perhaps the major theme. Our country has wrestled with the injustice of racism both overt and systemic since the first Europeans set foot on North America. We are a country that was founded on freedom from tyranny but the very men who drafted our sacred doctrines about liberty owned other humans. This hypocrisy is woven into our country. In America there has always been an asterisk when white men have discussed freedom. Lepore explores and uncovers these asterisks. She offers discrete historical accounts of how close our country has come to doing the right thing regarding racism and how every time there has been a concerted effort to fight change and to uphold the status quo. These Truths is a heartbreaking story and it is also the story of our nation. I highly recommend These Truths no matter who you are. But if you are a white male like me it should be required reading