“History, when you think about it, it’s not just about facts. But history is about identity, right? It tells us who we are. It tells us about the other. It tells us where we’ve been. It tells us where we’re going. It tells us all these particular things about us and about other people.”
Black history education as we know it, as riddled as it is with errors and mischaracterizations, took centuries to make it into mainstream classrooms. Before that, the teaching of the topic was largely based on racist, Eurocentric narratives.
To better understand how it all changed, let’s start from the beginning — with some of the earliest American history textbooks, published in the 1800s.
This is a history textbook from 1832. It was written by Noah Webster — yes, that Webster— and one of the opening chapters describes the QUOTE “varieties of the human race” in undeniably racist detail.
To be more specific, the text literally describes groups of people like Hindus as “ugly,” “cowardly and effeminate,” but refers to Europeans as “the most distinguished variety of men.”
One Harvard researcher described Webster’s text as “distressingly typical” of the time. Because it was written three decades before the end of the Civil War, the book only described slavery in the context of policy and completely ignored the abolitionist movement.
That decision wasn’t just an oversight. Webster really believed that Africans had “no history” and — you can see this from his writings — that history was centered on European colonizers and politicians.
“It was just part of kind of the racial climate during that time, right? Education, particularly history, was used as a racial apparatus to continue to transmit notions of race, racial hierarchy and different aspects that told black people were like non human …read more
Source:: Newsy Headlines