In a piece written for The Huffington Post, education writer, activist, and Professor Matthew Lynch, Ed.D., asks, “Should we rewrite American History Books?”
Dr. Lynch cites a recent petition submitted to Texas’ State Board of Education to have Mexican American history placed on a list of over 200 electives available in the state’s high schools – and the subsequent opposition to it – to illustrate the problem of using education to indoctrinate People of Color into permanent positions of servitude, while at the same time, using it to reinforce the dominant, superior position of the white race.
Current available electives include web gaming, and floral design.
Opponents to the petition claim Mexican American history is “too expensive” to offer and implement throughout the entire state, and seeing as how school districts have the authority to teach the subject – if they so choose – there’s no reason to etch it in stone.
To this, Dr. Lynch responded: “The refusal in Texas speaks volumes to the opposing histories that exist in this country. American history has come to mean anything from a migratory European perspective.” (emphasis added.)
And it also speaks volumes about a nation’s HYPOCRISY, and refusal to cop to the evils inflicted on (certain) People of Color.
Just HOW is it okay to spend money teaching high school students how to arrange a floral bouquet, or where to find the cheat codes for their favorite video game, yet when it comes to teaching People of Color the truth of their Ancestors’ history in this country, suddenly everyone’s budget-conscious?
Mexican Americans in Arizona received similar treatment: Opponents of a Mexican American history class proposed for the Tucson Unified School District flat-out admitted the reasons they didn’t support an accurate history curriculum for its Latino students was concern the classes would “promote resentment” toward those who have oppressed them, therefore promoting an ethnic solidarity that could make future attempts at oppression difficult.
And we can’t have THAT, now can we?
Rhode Island, on the other hand, seems to be taking a different track: Last month, the state legislature recently passed Resolution 2014-S 2418A, to create the 1696 Historical Commission. The Commission’s goal will be to develop a comprehensive African American history curriculum for public school students grades K-12.
The 15-member commission will include Rhode Island’s Secretary of State, education commissioner, the executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission or his designee, and 12 members of the public appointed by the state’s House speaker, Senate president and governor, respectively.
Here’s where it gets tricky:
- Rhode Island’s Secretary of State, A. Ralph Mollis, is white.
- Rhode Island’s education commissioner, Deborah A. Gist, is white.
- The executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, Edward Sanderson, is white.
- Former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox, (who was forced to resign, due to scandal) is white, and in all likelihood, as will be whoever replaces him.
- Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed is white.
- Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee is also white.
So, you mean to tell me this Sea of Vanilla, with the power to directly influence public policy for the people of Rhode Island, can be trusted to create an African American history curriculum that does more than focus on reinforcing our “beings of inferior order” status?
The governor, House Speaker, and Senate President each get to pick FOUR people to be on the commission. What’s the likelihood that people who DON’T look or think like me will select 12 people who don’t look or think like THEM to help create a cultural curriculum that will benefit people who DO look and think like me?
Rhode Island’s population is 85.6 percent white. That CONSCIOUS Brothers and Sisters will be chosen to help shape the development of a culturally accurate and relevant African American history curriculum is both statistically and (very) politically unlikely.
What each of these examples highlights, however, is the need for US to teach OUR history to OUR children, and CONTROL OUR OWN NARRATIVE, instead of looking for others to tell our story, to varying result.
Expecting others to do what we should be doing is an exercise in futility.
So when I read stories about Sweet Blackberry (the brainchild of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Karyn Parsons), an organization dedicated to “bringing little-known stories of African American history to children everywhere”, or visit websites like BlackPast.org, “the online reference guide to African American history”, or AfriGeneas, a site created to assist in the research of African Ancestry in the Americas, I’m inspired.
These folks get it.
We need more who do.
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