In Utah, it’s possible for parents to opt out of Black History lessons. I’m speechless. Here’s just a few reasons why learning about Black History is essential for kids, particularly those who are white:
- The United States history with slavery being legal is longer than its history being illegal. (Next year will be the first time that isn’t true.)
- It was completely legal for a white person to own another human being. There was no escaping. No where to go. No where to hide.
- Why didn’t settlers enslave indigenous people? It was because Africans were more resistant to European diseases and they were more familiar with the crops like sugar and tobacco. So instead of enslaving indigenous people white settlers drove them out of their home or killed them.
- The United States built their entire economic foundation on slavery. This cruel practice is the reason why the US would eventually become the richest country in the world.
- Adolf Hitler built the Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece of anti-semitic legislation, using Jim Crowe Laws as a model.
- Lynching postcards became so popular that in 1908 that the US Postal Service had to censor them. Of course, that didn’t stop people from putting them in an envelope!
- Americans went as far as to try to prove scientifically that whites were a superior race through eugenics and the bell curve.
And we can fast forward just a little bit to find redlining, voter suppression, discrepancy of mandatory sentencing for crack and cocaine use, private prison pipeline…This is only scratching the surface.
Slavery isn’t just some unfortunate dark period in history. This was 250 years of evil. That is 12 generations!
The ability to opt out means you are in a position of power. That is privilege. Understanding how we got here is the essential first step for us to understand where it is we want to go. How else do you build a culture that we can all be proud of?
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice” – Theodore Parker