JOHNSON: History books overlook African American triumph

Diverse history curriculum would benefit school culture, student awareness

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JOHNSON: History books overlook African American triumph






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In perhaps the most appropriate timing, Roseville High School Academic Lab and Black Student Union advisor Keshila Jones is in the early process of introducing a black history course in the near future.

In the wake of several negative, racially motivated incidents, this course will not only provide a clearer look at the insides of black history, but will also hopefully educate both the ignorant and misinformed.

Throughout our time at high school, there’s a trend we’re all subject to as students in almost any literature or history class: we’re fed the common misconception that black history started and ended with slavery.

With some standard high school curriculum books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn comes the tiresome notion that the only notable part of black history is the ultimate form of oppression in slavery.

We as a school neglect both to mention and educate ourselves and students on the triumphs and achievements of black history.

Each year it’s a continuous and redundant cycle: we spend the majority of the class poring over books and absorbing the Eurocentric history that we’ve heard countless times.

We then reach the ever taboo topic of the enslavement of African Americans, and everybody’s eyes start to nervously dart around the room, especially not in my direction.

The degrading presence of pity is undeniable, and it makes me uncomfortable to realize my classmates are unfortunately oblivious to my ancestors’ triumphs and accomplishments, only the struggles.

This is not to say the enslavement of African Americans isn’t one of the most important aspects of American history, because it certainly is.

This is to say that black achievements are in an integral part of society, and students deserve to learn about them in a classroom setting, not just during Black History Month.

A new class as promising as African American history has the potential to minimize the everyday ignorance surrounding our school.

Not only would it educate the misinformed students but it would also serve as a positive platform for those willing to learn more about the interwebs of black history.

It’s alarming when both black and nonblack students are unaware of the history that had a significant part in shaping our nation. The assumption that slavery sums up the entire Civil Rights Movement is frankly a slap to the face and disrespectful to brave abolitionists and activists.

I do believe in giving credit when it’s due, and I feel a small spark of pride when black social justice warriors such as Rosa Parks and MLK, are covered in class, and maybe even Frederick Douglass on a good day.
Then again, these figures have been apart of our increasingly limited knowledge of black history since fourth grade.

Credit towards prominent black influencers isn’t evenly distributed throughout the history books we’re forced to read and study. We already learn about the 13 colonies, we should include some information about one of the earliest heroes of the American Revolution, a black man named Crispus Attucks.

The Great Depression is a staple in American History, but the photographs, songs and diary entries of African Americans are rarely included.

Their absence ultimately reinforces the idea that white stories are the only stories.

If there’s ever been a perfect time to educate students about black history, it’s now.

Racism is still alive today in our society as a whole, not to mention in the confines of RHS with the recent incredibly ignorant harassment of the band at a football game and offensive social media “jokes.”