Does Black History Matter

Originally posted February 24, 2014


While stumbling around the internet this week I came across two articles that made me stop and think, this can’t be real.

The first one that I came across was about Jeopardy, which on the night of 02/17, had a category called “African-American History.” The panelist were all white college students and they avoided the topic to the best of their ability. Reading the comments under the article, to which they are all mostly twitter posts, I was so confused. They have to teach something other than how important Martin Luther King is to Black History, but then I realized, growing up I myself I barely knew what it really was…and I’m black. I realized that between my European parents and my predominately white schooling there was no room for me to learn the importance of understanding what it meant to be African-American and not just American. This greatly angered, we learn every pointless thing there is to know about American History, but we don’t learn about the struggles of any other race in out country.

The other article I came across was about the Phillipsburg High School wrestling squad, which is a school in New Jersey.

Several of the members of the wrestling squad (who were also the state champions). Posted the picture of them with a black wrestling dummy being hung from the ceiling by a rope wrapped around the neck. Two of the wrestlers can be seen wearing hoods drawn up into a KKK-style point, one in a white hoodie the other in red. Aside from the pure ignorance of this photo which I will not get into in this post, I realized something important. Americans will never learn or understand what it means to be African-American, black history will never be taught in schools in a way that will resonate with the students. HOWEVER, racial bias will continuously be taught, racial bias is what is embedded in our society. Racial bias is the reason a group of white college students on an intelligent TV show do not know anything about Black History (because it isn’t important). And it is the reason that a group of high school students see no wrong in simulating a lynching of a black dummy.

Is the fact that we don’t teach children about black history a problem? How is it that our society continues to foster racial ideas yet surprise the importance of African-American History?

3 thoughts on “Does Black History Matter”

  1. I agree with you 100% that there is not enough Black history being taught in schools. The white people that make the books we learned from as kids don’t want to show little Black and brown kids how beautiful, intelligent, and awesome they are and can be by the representation in those books. They also don’t want white kids to know the truth about their ancestors and how they did good in the world but thy also did a lot of bad as well. it’s a form of social control. What we teach the young people is what they will grow up believing and even if that is changed, their default/ knew jerk reaction to many things will be based off of things that they learned as kids. It’s sad because those white students are probably being defended. people are thinking and saying to them “well how do you expect them to know everything about Black history?’ now never mind the schools that they go through but if that was a group oF Black students or any black student on that show, they are supposed to know and are trained to know white people’s history that’s the problem. It doesn’t matter that they couldn’t answer a category about African American history, it’s that there’s ONE category about black history. it’s the fact that those white kids thought that having a Black image hanging from a tree was funny and they probably weren’t the only people that did. our way of “educating’ really needs to be reevaluated.

  2. I like your point that even though our society doesn’t teach enough information about Black history in America, our society does teach us a lot about racial stereotypes. I’m trying to think back to my history classes throughout school to try to remember what we did for Black History Month. I can’t remember it going beyond MLK and Harriet Tubman. One of the many problems with this focus is that it presents race as an exclusively Southern issue. We only learn of MLK’s fight against segregation in the South, and Tubman is described as freeing slaves from the South and helping them get North. This focus, especially for those of us growing up in the Northeast, implies that race is a Southern issue. We northerners have always treated Black Americans equally; it’s those Southerners who are the problem. We don’t hear of Malcolm X or others criticizing racism in NYC, for example. If we learn anything in Black History Month, we learn that southerners used to enslave African Americans and then segregate them, but all of that is over now. These stories are absolutely important, but are not the only stories of race in America at all.

  3. I absolutely think that not teaching children about black history is a problem. The history of blacks in America is extremely important because of the role it continues to play today. As we have discussed in class, we have been possessively invested in whiteness since our nation was first developed. This investment played a major role in discrimination and the development of systemic inequality. If we do not understand how we got here, how can we change? Your second question is very striking as well. The story about the high school wrestling team is disturbing. How is it that we do not teach about black history, but these students were able to make that racial association and go through with such a hateful act so easily? Perhaps the problem is not that we do not talk about race and black history, but that we do not talk about these subjects properly. If we spoke about them in a way that fostered true learning, then these students would have known that their actions were wrong. If we took the approach of using history as a learning experience and a tool to improve the future of race relations in America, maybe we wouldn’t have these problems.

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