Education is a mandatory requirement for American children that is not always afforded to children in some countries. In fact, you have some countries where education is afforded exclusively to the wealthy or only to males. Unfortunately, inequalities and marginalization are also factors penalizing young girls from being educated in some poor countries. Knowing how fortunate and blessed we are as a nation (compulsory education kindergarten through 12th grade) should make us more appreciative of making sure our children get the best education possible.
The curriculum, especially history, is dictated by the government in most countries and can be written or taught to present that country in a positive light, oblivious to any negative transgressions that might apply to said country. It is said that those who control the education of a nation control the minds of its citizens. So it is understandable why you find so many people now questioning the validity of what is being taught or not taught in our schools.
The United States is no exception when it comes to promoting our history in a positive light, whitewashing and diluting the unsavory and horrendous treatment of African Americans. American history, taught in our public schools, downplays and even eliminates the achievements and accomplishments of African Americans and their significant role in building this country. The suffering of enslaved African Americans, Jim Crow Laws, Black Code Laws, Lynching Laws, segregation and discriminatory laws are barely mentioned—if mentioned at all. In truth, American history presents the dominant White population in a superior light, dismissing minorities as irrelevant and insignificant. The way it is taught, makes many Whites feel inherently superior and apathetic to the concerns of Blacks and other people of color.
Not teaching the true history of this country as it relates to the treatment of African Americans, Native Americans and other marginalized minorities keeps White children from questioning the actions of their families and ancestors. It is an unwritten law that one must understand, i.e, ‘no White children should be put in a position to feel guilty or bad about the actions of their parents, grandparents, or ancestors.’ But it is okay for African American children to walk around with low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and inferior to their White counterparts.
Teaching the truth about our American history should not be an option. In fact, by not teaching the truth, we are undermining the intelligence of any free-thinking conscientious student. Our children have the right to know the truth. That will aid them in going forward as young adults to correct the ills in our society and make this into the country it should be. The true teaching of history should contribute in making all students cognizant and appreciative of the resilience, fortitude, ingenuity and intellect of African Americans and other people of color.
I would beg to argue with those who claim that teaching our true history correctly will cause Blacks to hate Whites and Whites to feel responsible for the sins of their fathers. We must look closely at those adamantly using hyperboles against teaching the truth. Their intentions are probably to keep this nation racially divided. It is understandable that some adults or parents feel very uncomfortable talking about or confronting the demons of their forefathers, but it doesn’t serve the children or this nation when you transfer your unfounded insecurities onto your children.
I would like to think that most parents would demand our educational institution be forthright with our children. They should value children’s intellect to make the right decisions or choices based on the history they are exposed to. Our children must learn that we do not live in a perfect world. Events have taken place in our past which we should not be proud of, but we can’t go back and change things. But learning the mistakes of the past puts us in a position to go forward, trying to correct the ills of the past if possible and to definitely keep us from repeating past transgressions.
Black children in this country may have an advantage over White children in being exposed to the true history of our country. Black parents have not had the privilege or benefit of hiding the truth from their children. That has been necessary for their children’s survival in this country.
We have a choice: 1) Hide the truth if it makes us uncomfortable or 2) Teach the truth as a learning tool to grow. Go forward, mindful not to make the same mistakes. I believe our children can handle the truth.