In a recent special edition entitled “Overlooked,” the New York Times acknowledged that the thousands of obituaries they have published since 1851 have mostly chronicled the lives of men. Promising to do better going forward, the newspaper created “Overlooked” to highlight the major contributions that women have made to our country.
Why now, I ask? I’m sincerely curious. Does hindsight’s rear-view mirror perspective allow us to see more clearly, by easing hard truths from the past? Do new perspectives make it easier to acknowledge years of women’s breakthrough accomplishments?
The Times, for whatever reason, had a change of heart and decided to do the right thing by acknowledging eleven, woman heroes, from Charlotte Bronte and Madhubala to Ida B. Wells and Emily Warren Roebling.
For me, acknowledging heroic women after all these years is similar to finally recognizing the truth about the Vietnam war. It’s difficult to come to grips with these realities, but it’s incredibly important to know the real stories—the heroism and sacrifice of our sons and daughters who served in Vietnam and the major contributions of the women whose histories were chronicled in the Times.
Perhaps, like I wrote in my musical blog post yesterday, it’s about ripples in time. With time, we gain new insights. We become able to recognize and learn there may be new connections, similarities and perspectives from the past that we missed earlier. Sometimes a perspective shift casts new, bright light, allowing us to see similarities between two topics. Time gives us courage, and, with courage, the truth becomes clearer.
That is true of me regarding the Vietnam War. The pain and loss of it dulled with time, compared to the knife-slicing agony I experienced when I lost my husband to that war.
Likewise, it’s taken decades for our American culture to recognize and accept many members of our family. And, of course, we still have more to embrace and acknowledge on this front. Perhaps a part of this recognition by the Times, and the rest of us, is the impact of social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.
With the passage of time it becomes more acceptable to talk about wrongs or discrimination, and to acknowledge mistakes. A rock thrown into a pond paints concentric circles further and further from the entry point where it first broke the water’s calm surface. I think that’s why we get more honest with ourselves and our country over time. To me, that ripple effect is a great and important thing.
© Tyra Manning 2018