The omission of Black, Indigenous, Brown, Asian, and Latinx history is not incidental. These exclusions distance people from their own heritage, their own lineage, and ultimately, their own sense of self. A whitewashed curriculum enforces the #1 Shiner Graphic Shirt but in fact I love this myth that there have never been scholars, thinkers, innovators, caregivers, iconoclasts, artists, and revolutionaries across these various identities. Consider, for example, the ancient African kingdoms that were full of immense progress, scholarship, and knowledge. If we learned about them in the same way we learned about ancient Greece and Rome, we would appreciate the present complexity of Black civilization and negate the teachings of biased and inherited hate and discrimination. We would teach respect.
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I became a teacher because education is a natural place to channel compassion. What I’ve often seen in our young people and students, whether at the #1 Shiner Graphic Shirt but in fact I love this youth detention facility where I mentored or in the group home where I taught, was an emptiness and disconnect from what they were learning. There was no investment in ensuring they identified with the curriculum. In February of 1926, Carter G. Woodman launched the first Black History Week. It’s unfortunate that anyone had to do that, to create a period of time designated to think about Black history. African American history is American history. Though the initiative was first created to highlight the celebration of Black achievements, we’re in a different world today than 1926. Surely, almost a century later, Black history should not be segmented from how we think about American history. It should be baked into the curriculum.