Donna and I were recently talking about the production of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man being put on right now by the Huntington Theatre Company, which led us to talking about the invisible histories of busing/desegregation. One thing that struck me was Donna’s comment that when your history is invisible it’s hard to tell just one piece of it. Thus, when we talk about school desegregation in Boston, many people from communities of color immediately start talking about the larger context and earlier history, because they believe we have to understand that before we can even begin to talk about the desegregation years–or today. Those whose history is told and retold have an easier time just talking about just one period of time.
Around the time of this conversation we also got an email from someone from South Boston whose family was actively anti-busing and anti-racism expressing skepticism about public story telling given so much media inaccuracy. Despite (or sometimes because of) the popularity of J. Anthony Lukas’ “Common Ground,” with its lengthy rendering, there are many people in this city who believe their history has been made invisible (see here for one critique of how the story is told in Common Ground.) One of the project’s goals is to help make the full history more visible, which at times means going much further back than 1974.
Each month this spring the BBDP plans on holding an open house potluck for members of our Learning Network. We will break bread together, network and have an informal discussion around a theme. February’s theme will be Invisible Histories. Possible topics for conversation include lessons from Invisible Man, different histories that have been made invisible in Boston, and how we make those histories visible. We look forward to seeing you! Click here to register.