I asked people to see the worst in our country so that we could preserve the best of it. American exceptionalism was never real. It was a myth of hubris, and a deep denial of the past. We are a country founded on slave labour and stolen land. We are a country where white mobs lynched blacks for entertainment, and white parents told their children to gather around and cheer.

Children are taught in school that these injustices are exceptions, but they are the rule. The willful blindness to injustice is the real American exceptionalism. We deny our worst instincts.

Sarah Kendzior on narratives.