NOT TEACHING BLACK HISTORY IS A CRIME AND IT IS INTENDED TO BE A CRIME. The crime is to cripple the minds of Black boys and girls and make them to feel inferior. Making Blacks feel their ancestors did nothing in the development of this country other than serve as slaves is purposeful and criminal. I call American History Incomplete, Dishonest, and Racist.
Chuck Hobbs wrote this in a brilliant talk given to Middle Schoolers in Tallahassee, “First, you must be aware that the history of Black people did NOT begin with slavery here in the Western Hemisphere. Long before European civilization existed, there was Africa, a continent rich with life in every form imaginable.” These are words that many Black students never hear, because White school administrators and White teachers and even some Black teachers do not want them to hear it. For Whites, the reason is Racist; for Blacks the reason is laziness.
In the next two months, Dr. Rudy F. Jamison Jr. and I will release a book entitled, “Never Forget Who You Are: Conversations About Racism and Identity Development” which addresses purposeful Racist teaching. A brief excerpt of my words and Dr. Jamison’s words:
MY WORDS...“ What makes American history dishonest and immoral and untruthful is the purposeful exclusion of significant contributions by Blacks from the annals of American history. White students can pick up a book and read about the contributions of those who look like them. In many sections of this country, Blacks can rarely pick up a book and read about the contributions of those who look like them. In the eyes of those students, Whites did everything, to let them tell it, and Blacks made no contributions to this country. Damage to the psyche of Black students in a classroom is immeasurable and all because of America’s dishonesty and America’s racism. White textbook authors sanitize and romanticize American history for White America. When you consider that America’s founding presidents owned slaves, as did presidents of prestigious colleges and universities, as well as religious leaders and their organizations, American historians and American history textbooks deify instead of criticizing slave-owning founders of this Christian country.
White Christian America’s notion that Black people are less than human remains at the heart of America’s core racist attitudes. This Christian country saw fit to establish signs, pass laws, and use violent intimidation to direct Blacks to their proper places: Colored and White water fountain signs, Colored and White restroom signs, segregated schools, segregated restaurants, segregated hotels, segregated motels, segregated movie theaters, segregated doctors’ offices, segregated buses and bus stations, segregated churches, segregated trains and train stations, segregated sports venues, segregated government offices at all levels, segregated public facilities, and segregated beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Racist signs and racist laws represented a daily reminder as White America sought to reinforce their Christian “biblical notion” that Blacks were inferior and, in effect, Blacks were less than Whites.”
DR. JAMISON'S WORDS...... Every student wants to matter, every student wants to be accepted, every student wants to learn, every student wants to contribute, and every student deserves a quality education that is responsive to his or her reality. History, and the books from which it is taught, is extremely critical to whether the quality and responsiveness of public education is empathic to students’ reality. More importantly, is the history we are teaching in schools accurate? History books are pivotal elements of identity development for young people that have thus far been written by the victors: the stories of White American power structures. Evading the reality of American history, particularly as it relates to Black folk, rejects the factual acts of terror in America and perpetuates dishonest narratives that keep White folk comfortable. The absence of an acknowledged brutal history relieves us, and I do mean everyone, of our moral responsibility to right America’s wrongs. When we consider the purpose of public education, some would argue that it sits on a continuum between democratic equality, social efficiency, and social mobility. If we can agree on these as functions of public education, then we can understand that history plays an important role in where we see ourselves situated in the world today. Unfortunately, Black folk have gotten the short end of the stick in terms of where we see ourselves, as well as where others see us in history. How do I see America? Let me count the ways. I see America through a lens that is oftentimes undervalued by others, especially White folk: competitive, prideful, compassionate, educated, slightly overweight, and Black. America was founded exclusive of others; Black folk did not play a role in the assembly of its ideals nor were we included as participants in pursuit of “freedom, justice, and liberty for all.” I am not sure if there is any other way I can see America other than through the eyes of a Black male who grew up in a disenfranchised community branded by scarcity, savagery, and less than—a Black male who has been relatively successful and conscious enough to be discouraged by systems of oppression that have been maintained over time. I see America through a lens that ignores the love, accountability, and high expectations so prevalent in poverty and marginalization.
This thinking permeates the teaching of young Blacks. Whites and Black know better, yet they do nothing. A Crime? You bet your understanding of the human condition it is.
The Struggle Continues.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.