By William T. Robinson, Jr.
While this month is Black History Month, let’s not forget that there is a lot of history that occurred in this country that makes some people both Black and White uncomfortable. The question some are asking is this: Is it appropriate to dilute certain segments or make others more palatable for those learning Black history and still retain historical accuracy? There are some Whites who feel that Black history in America is so horrific and embarrassing that it will make their White children feel ashamed. One must understand that the majority of teachers in this country are White, and you find some who are very uncomfortable teaching Black history—even to the point of trying to teach very little or ignore it altogether, if possible.
Make no mistake that in public and private schools, it is an unwritten law that you don’t do anything that makes White children feel uncomfortable about American history—although it seems acceptable for African Americans and children of color to walk around with low self-esteem resulting in self-hatred. This is all the more reason that our youth (especially African American youth) learn the accomplishments and achievements of people who look like them. They need to understand about the fear and hate existing in those who blatantly and surreptitiously seek to oppress African Americans.
It is paramount that we all should know the Black history encompassing the achievements and accomplishments of African Americans. There is more to our heritage than the tumultuous, demeaning and dehumanizing period of African Americans subjected to slavery, Jim Crow, Black Codes and other forms of discrimination, injustice or equality. A true understanding of Black history in America will make one more knowledgeable of the institutional and systemic racism and discrimination so much a part of our country. We will have a better understanding of the prevailing undercurrent constantly at work trying to relegate African Americans and people of color to second-class status as citizens.
In this climate of racial tension incited by our current president, acknowledging Black history can be pivotal in understanding the role of racism and bigotry shared by a segment of our population longing for the days of yesteryear. Rationalize however you must, but most Africans Americans find it offensive, likening ‘Make America Great Again’ to the days of slavery and blatant White supremacy. A true teaching of Black history can help undo all the lies proliferated by those seeking to trivialize and oppress Blacks.
Black history should be told honestly and truthfully to dismiss the lies and stereotypes perpetuated by those seeking to oppress African Americans by trivializing their worth, intelligence, and achievements. Regardless of how one may feel about history, it happened and you cannot take it back: good or bad. However, African American history can be used as a learning tool, studying mistakes, making possible corrections so that we may go forward in a positive and productive manner.
We owe it to our youth to expose them to the truth with the hope that they will make an unadulterated attempt to undo or correct the ills of their forefathers. Deceiving people does no good but only helps in the continuance of ill-willed and self-serving groups in perpetuating their nefarious agendas.
We must also be mindful that the monumental accomplishments and achievements of African Americans aren’t lessened by the years of slavery and injustice rendered upon Blacks in America. Knowing the truth should give the world a greater appreciation of an intelligent, loving, beautiful, and resilient people.
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.