Brendan Orsinger

I grew up very trusting (too trusting) of the mainstream media and the accounts of our nations history from my textbooks. For years I was under the impression that the United States of America was the greatest nation in the world with no flaws — the epitome of democratic perfection. I would sing the national anthem proudly at baseball games and digest all the stories of our founding fathers that led me to idolization.

Then I read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and everything changed. I became more curious about who was writing the history and their motivations. I developed a lens by which to critically judge the events and accounts I read in newspapers and history books. I was more thoughtful about a mainstream version of our history informed how another might see the world differently than me.

His book was the catalyst — opening me to a deeper understanding of myself, my biases and how they manifested subconsciously into sexism, racism, classism, and other forms of intolerance. After doing more work, reading books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I found my way with conviction into activism. Each day I do this work I feel increasingly more empowered to be an aware and mindful ally to the Movement for Black Lives and other movements who struggle to dismantle systems of violence and oppression.