PerspectivesNikesha Elise Williams Jacksonville Today Contributor
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Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Thursday, Oct.12, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

OPINION | I won’t lie to you 

Published on October 25, 2023 at 8:00 pm
Jacksonville Today seeks to include a diverse set of perspectives that add context or unique insight to the news of the day. Regular opinion columnists are independent contractors who are not involved in news decisions. Want to submit your own column on a matter of public interest? Email pitches to jessica@jaxtoday.org.

Tuesday morning I spent hours drafting this column to give my opinion on the war in the Middle East. I have many feelings and thoughts about it but I also know I am not an expert. I sent the draft to other writers and journalists I respect and who have deeper knowledge on the subject with the express direction to “tear it to shreds” because what I don’t want to do is cause harm with my words. 

They did. 

What you are reading now is not that original draft. 

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There is too much I don’t know, haven’t read or researched, or even processed for me to write articulately about what is happening. 

The very nature of war forces people to deal in absolutes. Truth and lies. Right and wrong. Good and evil. Black and white. But the reality is . . . our very nature, and war specifically, is much more muddied. Perspective matters, and there seems to always be a sliding scale of allowable atrocities for those called allies, while there is zero tolerance for the same behavior by those considered enemies.

For two years, I have used this platform to discuss whatever is on my mind. Anti-Black racism, politics, COVID-19, reproductive freedom, guns and mass shootings, parenting, work and labor, with the guiding ethos to give a fresh and honest perspective that does not harm or hurt but enlightens, though I am also aware that sometimes the things I write enrage. 

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Wielding words that force people to look in the mirror and deal honestly with the lies they’ve been told and sort truth from propaganda is work I welcome. In trying to write about what is happening in Gaza, knowing I needed many second opinions before my words were published, I realize it is work I need to continue to do myself. 

It is work we should all do. 

We all have blind spots. 

We all have been influenced by America’s mythological folklore that touts freedom and justice, liberation and democracy abroad while being deeply racist, prejudiced, unequal, inequitable, and increasingly divided by class at home. 

Our federal government is at a standstill because the House remains without a speaker, the second person in line to the presidency. The reason for this grinding halt of government is due to one party’s own in-fighting. As a country we are at war with who we’ve been, who we are, and who we want to be. Some would like us to forget who we’ve been: a nation divided by race, class, and gender. But because we’ve never dealt with these divisions, it is who we still are and it is who we will be until we can look honestly in the mirror and realize we’ve been lied to.

I don’t want to contribute to the lies about people whose history I’m only just now learning. I don’t want to beat the binary drum of war that demands victors make victims out of enemies. What I want is for the world to not be at war. What I want is for oppression to be a problem for everyone and not just the oppressed. What I want is for us as a people to not normalize genocide. 

The only opinion I have and the only solution I support is cease fire. 

It’s a request, along with my many others, that requires a level of emotional intelligence most people refuse to develop. 

It is easy to be lied to. To be told what to believe. It is much harder to look and learn for ourselves. And yet we must look. We must tear our long-held beliefs to shreds. We must separate truth from lies and propaganda like chaff from wheat. We must look in the reflective mirror of history and deal honestly with what we see. 

That is the only way to truly be free. 

Lead image: Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Thursday, Oct.12, 2023. | AP Photo, Ohad Zwigenberg


author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.

author image Jacksonville Today Contributor

Nikesha Elise Williams is an Emmy-winning TV producer, award-winning novelist (Beyond Bourbon Street and Four Women) and the host/producer of the Black & Published podcast. Her bylines include The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and Vox. She lives in Jacksonville with her family.


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