Teaching factual American history in our schools

Well, this post is probably going to anger a few people. I don’t care. Hear me out.

I grew up in white rural America. I did not live in white rural America for most of my adult life. I’ve been back here for a few years. There are days that I love it and days that I think my head is going to explode. The divide within America increases daily. Rural America and urban America are almost two different countries. They do not understand each other at all. Of course, there are people who are exceptions and are able to move back and forth between the two. There are not many and I am reaching the point where I almost can’t either. I miss living in the city with diversity and differing views and outlooks on life. As the divide increases, those of us with mixed race children are going to be forced to choose a side. That in itself makes me angry. We are all Americans and should all be on the same side.

Here is a piece of what I see. American history, we do not teach a factual picture of our own history. I don’t think that we ever have. If we would choose to teach factual history, it would decrease the divide within our country.

I am tired of hearing white people complain about when is white history month and when do we teach white history. One school in my area was open on Martin Luther King Day and did not even think it was necessary to do anything for or about our national holiday. That in and of itself speaks volumes.

I read posts online from people all over this country talking about how in 1776 we all gained our freedom and were endowed with God given rights listed in our constitution. No, we did NOT. White men did. We all gained our independence from England and became a country. Women and anyone of any ethnicity other than white could not vote or own property among other things. Do you really believe it mattered to black slaves in America whether or not the white man holding the whip and their ownership papers was from England or a newly created American citizen? How do you think their day to day life changed? Probably not much, if at all.

The bulk of our country’s entire history is taught from the perspective of white men. To be fair, most of our country’s history was about and from the white male perspective because they were the ones who held all of the power and authority. So yes, much of our history is about white men’s accomplishments, failures and decisions. Other people didn’t have rights, education or opportunities that white men had. In 1776, if you look at that in an historical context, all men are created equal literally meant all white men. It did not include anyone else. Throughout our history, many white men fought and died for others to gain rights. Many fought against losing the white male power and control base. The same is happening now with the far right extremist Trump supporters. They want a return to white male power and control. We are not far from a second civil war. Now and then, white men aren’t and weren’t the only ones fighting.

We need to teach the entire story when we teach history. Stop lying and saying we all gained personal rights and freedoms in 1776 when we did not. We all gained our independence from England and created our own country. Stop lying and sweeping underneath the carpet all of the unpleasantness our history contains. We have grown as a country over the years. We have continuously bestowed rights upon people. Our constitution allows us to do that. It tells us to do that in favor of bestowing power and rights onto our government. We the people have all of the rights. We should all have the same rights. Most of us agree on this idea regardless of our political party. The extremists on both sides of the political aisle do not. I don’t believe the majority of our country is racist as much as I believe they haven’t been educated or experienced life outside of their own small geographical area. They are viewing our country through their own life experiences. We all have our own personal filters that affect our views. We need to start teaching complete factual history. Our country’s history is not just that of white men. Our history includes, Chinese, Asians, Black people, women, the LGBTQ community, Mexicans, Germans, Native Americans, etc. Our diversity is our strength. We would not have won WWII had it not been for the Navajo Tribe. Wind talkers saved us. I live in an area where white farmers pass down family land gained by their families in the land runs. Do black people have the opportunity to pass down land run farms? No, they do not. It was 100 years ago that white people burned down black businesses in Tulsa, OK. It was 101 years ago that women gained the right to vote. It was in the 1960s that the Civil Rights Movement truly began. How can you pretend you are teaching factual American history when you only teach what pertains to white men? How can you pretend you aren’t racist when you believe Martin Luther King Day is too irrelevant to teach inside your school ON MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY? Pretending only white male history is important is mind numbing to me.

We need to start teaching history honestly. We need to remember and learn from our history. That is how we grow and become stronger. We need to start teaching people that yes, for centuries most big accomplishments were made by white men. But, we also need to teach why that was. Why? Because that is an important aspect of our history. Women and black people, as well as other races, were not allowed the same education, employment or opportunity as white men in most cases. It’s truly remarkable how many women and black people, as well as other races, throughout our history overcame the obstacles they faced relevant to their historical time. We need to teach history in it’s context. Some of the literature being removed from school reading due to racism or sexism should not be removed. It should be read in order to teach people what those time periods were actually like. Literature tells us the mindset of the people and culture from when it was written. We still have white men and women who are in complete denial about our history, or it’s unpleasant and they don’t want to face facts.

I agree with people who say that we all share the same history of our country. I do not agree that we are accurately teaching that history. History includes everyone. Our history includes everyone. It certainly includes Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, and Rosa Parks. It certainly includes when large groups of people gained the right to freedom, own property, and vote. That was not, in fact, 1776.

Are living people today responsible or accountable for the actions of our ancestors? No, I don’t believe that we are. I don’t care your ethnicity or the color of your skin. I don’t believe in white guilt, male guilt, white male guilt etc. We should all be proud of who and what we are regardless of race or gender. I do believe we are accountable for learning about our past mistakes and how not to repeat them. I do believe we are accountable for learning how our history affects our present. We have to teach honest and factual history. It’s not negotiable if we want to end the divide within our country.


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