THERE IS A SAYING IN THE ACADEMIC ARENA, “If it is not written down, it did not happen,” and Black history is seldom written on the pages of American history. Racism is also subject matter that does not make its way onto the pages of American history and is often treated as a taboo subject or a four-letter word. Author and Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates has said that, for Black people in America, Racism is a physical experience of fear and violence.
Note to American history teachers, White and Black: Do not expect your Black students to absorb your history class if you do not incorporate Black history. If I sit in a classroom and only read about the contributions made by White Americans and White Europeans, then the “learning field” is never level. It is downright dishonest that American history as portrayed in history textbooks essentially makes the statement that Blacks made no salient contributions to this country. My Black ancestors helped to develop this country before, during, and after slavery. You must teach the truth without regard to what the textbooks proclaim. You are not teaching if you do otherwise.
We simply cannot afford to ignore stories about the legacy of Black history, and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement any more. Those who tire of hearing about Racism should ask yourselves, what if you were Black and had to live through the daily vulgarity of and the pathology of White American Racism, and the Dishonesty of American History?
Mr. Rutledge Pearson, my American History teacher, the adviser to the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP, and my mentor, armed us with the truth, irrespective of what was “written down.” Black History is who WE are. Racism is why WE fight . . . and the Struggle, is what WE must continue. Doing nothing is not an option.
The Struggle Continues.