School Systems Take A Reductive Approach To Black History


Kasy Heath

This week was difficult for me to decide what to write on because I love to call out stupidity and that’s all I’ve seen in the past week. Do I rip Ralph Northam apart for the blackface allegations and his unbelievably stupid response? Do I criticize ICE’s seemingly random and unnecessary choice to detain and maybe deport the rapper 21 Savage? Should I stomp on Trump this week for his insatiable (and stupid) desire for the wall and threats of declaring a national emergency? No, forget it, I’ll just rip apart the school system for its treatment of Black History.

Although I love learning about my own racial history, I loathe the fact that I’ve received most information from outside of grade school. I’ve probably learned more black history facts from Instagram posts (I would fact-check these posts of course) than from school before I came to college.

In grade schools across the country, black history is glossed over and watered down. A handful of prominent black leaders (Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman are the biggest) are talked about over and over again, and seldom on a deep, critical level. Most of the information I received was within Black History Month rather than through the course of the school year. I learned little about my ancestors but was taught a brain full of white history.

Throughout school, I was taught about dozens of white presidents, many of whom I later learned were outwardly racist, and some owned and bore children with slaves. My own children will later learn about our current president, who is an outright racist and has a history of discriminatory practices against black people. I understand that history is important to learn, but it’s been predominantly white history that is taught and that’s problematic.

There are scores of black writers, doctors, politicians, inventors, businessmen, scientists, craftsmen and educators who made ground breaking accomplishments that have shaped America. The average grade school history curriculum touches on barely a fraction of those people. As a black student, how do you think it feels to go through twelve years of studying people who don’t look like you and have a history of hatred towards someone the same color as you?