Black history month gives us one month a year to look at the role of African-Americans in the story of our past. Let’s face it, that still leaves us 12 months to keep the perspective white. I…
I confess that it probably isn’t and that is the fault of the bias of our curriculae.
What is often omitted from American history is a diverse perspective. We do not leave out the accomplishments of all black men and women but we are selective in the tales we tell in school. Most often what we exclude are the shameful acts perpetrated by white Americans against our fellow-man.
This is the great American lie of equality and justice. We do not study the race war of 1898 in which blacks were systematically murdered, which should ensure November 10th, its anniversary, a place in infamy. We seldom acknowledge the routine signalling out of black youths for crimes for which white youths would skate. There is the institutional racism that had a nation that won a fight against Nazism abroad fail to acknowledge the accomplishments of Jessie Owens, for example; and after black Americans fought in the Second World War many came home to Jim Crow, the back of the bus and whites-only water fountains and bathrooms. Casual racism (a chilling conflux of words) is something that informs the daily lives of Afro-Americans.
These are the experiences that no white American can fully understand. Cell phones have made it possible to record some inequities as they occur and share them. It would not hurt to routinely learn of these episodes in the course of our educations.We all need to walk a mile in another’s shoes to fully grasp their experience of our nation’s shortfalls.
We need a less selective and bowlderized history so that Americans learn not white history or black history but American history. We should consider a ride on the underground railroad of our past.