Created Equal: Caroline Randall Williams on Confronting the Darkness in American History

“I think we do our country a profound disservice when we forget that we have never been better than this,” says Randall on the enduring legacy of racism in the United States.

Season Three of the podcast Created Equal explores “Writers on Race: From Ralph Ellison to Colson Whitehead,” and features some of the most important voices in literature as well as the national conversation on racial inequities. 

The conversations were conducted on the radio program, Detroit Today, in the WDET studios on Wayne State University’s campus throughout the pandemic and civil unrest of 2020. Each episode consists of a conversation between Henderson and one writer exploring the role of their work in the conversation about race in America. 

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Episode 10 Guest: Caroline Randall Williams

Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet and activist. She’s also a Writer-in-Residence of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University.

Discussion Points:

The role of confederate monuments, as discussed in her 2020 opinion piece published in the New York Times:
“When I wrote the piece what I was asking leaders to do was not re-write history or paint over anything but to re-remember and to reframe what we know by adding more layers because silencing happens in real-time, systems of oppression mean that people who are living in the same space of time don’t get their histories recorded.”

On the insurrection at the Capitol and the dangers of ignoring America’s racist history:
“I think what we saw at the Capitol was just… more of the dregs of what happens when we don’t revisit the past in order to add more layers of context… I think that when people pine for a great America, the great America for those that are benefiting from the people whose necks they’re standing on and I think that the people who stormed the Capitol, indignant, want to go back to a time when we can forget about the neck standing part of things… some of us live in bodies that can never forget because that oppression is written into our DNA.”

Reflecting on living and working in unprecedented times:
“I feel like it’s never been more time for us to be sure that whatever we feel like we need to say we just ought to go ahead and say it because all of the norms have been abandoned for good and ill, and part of the good is that it’s now time for those of us who have found our way into white spaces, into positions of power, navigating these systems of white supremacy, we now after all that work… the things that we haven’t allowed ourselves to say we now get to say and we have a platform to say them.”

Created Equal Season 3 is supported by the Michigan School of Psychology

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  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.