Teach my history, too


Atiyah Lane

I get it. Black people were slaves, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and Rosa Parks wouldn’t give up her seat for the white man.
Every year in every studies class I’ve been in, when it comes to black history, I’m told the same thing over and over. At this point, with the school’s standard, even I could teach about black history.
The curriculum barely takes the time to actually account for the entirety of black history. Teachers will replay the story of how black people marched during the Civil Rights Movement, and we learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Harriet Tubman over and over. Teachers spend a day talking about what they consider the importance of black history and they think they’ve accomplished applying the history of African Americans.
Sitting in a studies class, being one out of the four black students in a 50 student room, I sometimes find myself feeling as if I’m in a whole different world when it comes to knowing about black history.

Infographic by Valeria Velasquez [Source: www.brittanica.com]
In sixth grade, I was in my social studies class, and we heard that Maya Angelou had died. My teacher asked the class if anyone knew who she was, and I was the only person who knew of her. Despite there being more than 20 people in the class, no one knew the American poet, civil rights activists, singer and actress. Not saying that everyone should know her, but only one student knowing about her was mind blowing.
African American history should be normalized into teaching. I shouldn’t have to learn about black people’s achievements only outside of school. Black people are always placed under this category of being oppressed, subjected to racism and surviving slavery. We’re never seen as more than that. People always talk about black excellence but I never see the news talking about it. The media seems to only display black people as perpetrators to crimes.
No matter what black people achieve it always seems to be overlooked. A news anchor was upset because black teenager Michael Brown was accepted into 20 colleges and four of them were Ivy Leagues. The news anchor’s words were, “It was ridiculous to apply to 20 different schools and it was taking away opportunities from other students applying.” If Brown was a white student, his achievements would’ve been praised.
White people getting all the praise, however, is nothing new.
We’re always taught about what the white man has done for America. We look at his pros and cons in history. The cons could outweigh the pros yet we still try to see him as “helping make America.” We talk about American history and look at the white people as if they’re the only people that made things happen. If anything, white people have brought a lot of pain, ignorance and selfishness to this country.
I could start all the way in the beginning when Europeans traveled to America and stole land from Native Americans to now, where people are being deported and separated from their families. No matter how many times a black person is innocently killed by a white policeman, there is still no justice.
White people’s history is always being covered. Meanwhile, other races like African American aren’t recognized enough when we talk about American history.
I shouldn’t have to take another class to learn about African American history or wait until Black History month to be told the same old things I’ve been told my whole life. How are black people supposed to feel motivated when all we hear about is the struggle of our ancestors?
My sophomore year, I learned that before slavery, black people actually had a great quality of life. There were even kings and queens like Queen Amina of Zaria who ruled in the 15th century. White people, however, came to their countries, exploited their resources, and ruined their prosperity. History class needs to include great inventors, activists and leaders who are black along with the white people. Black icons such as the Little Rock Nine, W.E.B. Du Bois, Harry T. Moore, and many others have marked historical moments in America.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how much black people, or even just race issues, are overlooked in school, in the media and in America.
Let’s talk about the recurring issues that have been happening since the 18-1900s. I’m always hearing older people saying our generation is the future, so if we’re going to be taught history we need to be taught all sides of history.
How is America supposed to be great when people don’t even know its true story?
Do you believe your history is accurately represented in history classes? Let us know in the comments below.