As a history buff, especially a black history buff, this story definitely caught my attention. Texas is coming out with new history textbooks for public schools, which will be used for formal and official testing. But Texas has taken whitewashing to a new level.
The textbooks are according to standards, which were created by the Texas Board of Education, which consists of more Republicans. These textbooks place slavery as the secondary reason for the Civil War and downplays Jim Crow, the “War on Drugs”, and many other aspects that shape this country. Schools aren’t necessarily required to use these books, but they most likely will instead of taking extra time and possibly extra money to come up with a viable view of US History.
This whitewashing of textbooks is nothing new, and certainly does not only affect the scope of African American History. There is very little if any information about women’s rights moving into the 60s and 70s, the gay rights movements, the Black Panther Party and many other tidbits in our history. Having grown up in Texas, I know my history of the United States is definitely lacking and warped.
Texas is not the only state in the country guilty of whitewashing. In fact, every state’s history books have been whitewashed to some extent in some aspect. America has a history of pushing things they aren’t proud of under the rug and making information not as readily available as it should be.
But is hiding those dark parts of history the solution? Many in Texas and in this country would say yes. We see this often especially with the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise in activism against police brutality and unfair imprisoning of black and brown bodies. “It’s in the past, and we should move forward.” That is certainly not false, but in order for us as a country to move forward and try to come to a calmer state, we need to understand exactly what we are moving forward from. The saying history repeats itself has been evident in the continued over-policing and the prominence of racism-white supremacy. Moving forward is not possible in perpetuation of ignorance.
Going to school in Texas, I know my education was definitely lacking in African and African American studies. I never really learned too much about the Civil Rights movement, about the process of black slavery, about the Jim Crow laws and such. I think maybe we had one small section of a chapter discussing the Little Rock Nine, and I saw nothing of the Alabama church bombings. We were given two activists, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I didn’t know anything of the Greensboro sit ins, or the Cornerstone speech given way back during the Civil War. My parents were amazing in providing the resources for me to study such instances in slavery and black lives in the US.
In tenth grade, when we reached my AP World History classes and was told we were going to cover all of the history of the world, I scoffed. There was maybe one blurb each about the Indian revolts, the Palestinian troubles, the Mexican revolution, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so on. Yet the book was very eager to discuss the benefits of the Industrial Revolution.
I can come to terms with doling out with age-appropriate information to children. But it becomes a difficulty to have people discuss controversial topics when students have no context of such issues. US students are the least worldly students, and understand very little on foreign relations. But why blame them immediately? Students, while they do have some of the responsibility to keep up to do date on what goes on as they grow older, are not completely to blame for their lack of understanding. They grow up in a school system that monitors and filters what information is readily available, stifling the overall process of education.
With better access to the knowledge about affairs, good or bad, allows for students to get the whole experience of the education system, and gives them an opportunity to make more well-informed decisions.