There Is No American History Without Black History. It’s Time To Rewrite The History Books.

There Is No American History Without Black History. It's Time To Rewrite The History Books.

Growing up, I remember a statue in the house, around six feet tall. Beautifully shaped, it represents a woman with a basket on her head, walking hand in hand with a child. Multitasking in full transparency, she carried, occupied and moved forward. My mother made sure that her six daughters were aware of the contributions of women, Islam and the African diaspora to the world. We lived in a house with an instinctive educational program. It wasn’t formal or open, but rather a continuous flow of love and knowledge. Thanks to these teachings, my sisters and I had a solid idea of ??ourselves. We love each other.
When I was about 7 years old, my mother welcomed Shaykh Ahmad Tawfiq to our home as a tutor for me and my sisters. This is probably where I first understood the notion of curriculum and the radical idea that people learn when they can relate to the characters and concepts presented to them. Shaykh Ahmad Tawfiq taught us about Africa, telling stories that were unleashed with beauty and color. He revived the ancient kingdoms of Futajalo, Benin, Ghana, Mali, Egypt. We learned Arabic and from the old University of Timbuktu, a large center for African scholarships built long before European universities. We discovered sophisticated and industrious Africans who were scholars, priests and farmers. I knew where I was in the great tides of history. But when I went to school, I got confused. What I learned there was radically different from what I learned at home.
The omission from the history of Blacks, Natives, Maroons, Asians and Latinxes is not accidental. These prohibitions distance people from their own heritage, their own lineage, and ultimately their own sense of self. A whitewashed program reinforces the myth that there never were scholars, thinkers, innovators, caregivers, iconoclasts, artists and revolutionaries across these different identities. Consider, for example, the ancient African kingdoms which were full of immense progress, knowledge and scholars. If we learned about them the same way we learned about ancient Greece and Rome, we would appreciate the current complexity of black civilization and deny the teachings of biased and inherited hatred and discrimination. We would teach respect.
I became a teacher because education is a natural place to channel concern. What I have seen many times in our youth and students, whether in the youth detention center where I was a mentor or in the group home where I taught, was a void and a disconnection from this. that they were learning. There has been no investment to ensure that they identify with the program. In February 1926, Carter G. Woodman launched the first Black History Week. It’s unfortunate that anyone who has had to do this, create a designated time frame for reflecting on black history. African American history is American history. Although the initiative was first created to highlight the celebration of black achievements, we are in a different world than 1926 today. Certainly, almost a century later, black history should not be separated from our thinking of American history. It should be built into the program.
Who are we and what is our system of value? Learning about our history sparks this kind of self-inquiry. We need to decentralize the whiteness and western versions of history of how we conceptualize our country and our society. Learning the flow of history – real history, not whitewashed or glossed over – is to learn about personal and cultural values, and from that reflection we can identify actions we can undertake to work for a harmonious society. When we talk about slavery, or the Jim Crow laws, or the Tulsa Race Massacre on Black Wall Street, we have to identify those moments as just as American as the Boston Tea Party. If we do this, if this story is put in the present, then more citizens would understand the need for repairs. This type of education ensures that we instill a value system of honesty, human compassion and truth in our young people. Education and justice are synonymous. As a country, we invest $ 81 billion a year in the incarceration system. What if we put that money into the education system instead?
Today, I teach a course at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. As I tell my students, our class aims to encourage critical thinking and critical thinking. It’s a safe space to discuss everything we are going through; there is no right or wrong answer, and I encourage my students to overcome their prejudices. I ask them to challenge any rigid perceptions they might have and see things not in black and white, but from a more flexible and complicated moral perspective – a mutual care perspective with regard to historical facts. It has been wonderful, beautiful and intimate to have these students, and this year in particular I have highlighted the subject matter of my course. The predominance of the criminal justice system in the news and media cycle has brought our history closer to us. This mass exposure of injustice to many – although, of course, so many of us have known about this injustice for a long time – helped young people see the challenges our forefathers endured in a real way. Historical moments easily passed during a quick analysis of an article or a classroom presentation are now brought to life. We need to identify with it and react to it in real time. They are embodied in our present moment. What if our forefathers could take a step forward, like my father did, what can we do?
What I’ve learned from my studies is that my students crave this kind of information. Wanting to learn more about history is also knowing how your life can be more useful. Education is justice because knowledge of historical facts enables kindness. When students discover stories full of people like themselves, who have lived full, rich and interesting lives, people who have triumphed and overcome so many systemic obstacles, it gives them an honest and grounded perspective, and the ability to see. their own life in this same plane of possibility. Teaching, and especially teaching critical thinking about history, is one way to help people find their voice. They will know the truth of their story, the accomplishments and contributions of their lineage, and how precious they are. A society in which people feel engaged, centered and invested with a purpose is a society whose citizens can love themselves.

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