Dear Anti-Racist Parent:
Over the past seven or eight years, I’ve been on a journey to relearn history – you know, leaving behind the history I was taught and trying to grasp the real truth of the events that have shaped our nation’s history. At the same time, I have three elementary-age children. They attend a very diverse school (white children are in the minority, although staff and teachers are primarily white) and I want to encourage their teachers to be sensitive to history’s real events: speaking of those that were resistors (Cesar Chavez, MLK, Rosa Parks, etc.) is great, but I don’t think they are getting a clear idea of what those resistors were really resisting. They are still coming home with projects that require them to create Native American costumes with brown paper bags (all to re-create the first Thanksgiving), but not with the understanding that the Native Americans might just have a different view of the events of that time.
I am currently organizing to get these teachers to an anti-racism workshop that spends a lot of time talking about history, but I’m afraid that if there are no tools that I can show them that exist to help them teach differently, that it’s going to be an uphill battle.
Here’s my question: Are there anti-racist history curriculum options out there? For any school grades? I know there are a books on the subject, but I don’t even know where to start looking for written curriculum.
From the editor:
Brava, Kris! Good for you! I think I have said here before that I think many of our nation’s problems–racial and otherwise–can be traced to our pitiful grasp of our true history. I am frightened sometimes by how little people know, particularly about where people of color fit in our nation’s history.
Case in point: Yesterday I was on a Web site reading about the dust-up over “the N word” on “The View.” During her debate with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Whoopi Goldberg mentioned that her mother was not allowed to vote. A few online commenters were confused by Goldberg’s assertion. One wrote that since the 14th amendment was ratified in 1868 and women got the right to vote in 1920, there should have been no barrier to the comedian’s mother voting. “Am I missing something?” She asked. “Yeah,” I thought, “Reconstruction. Jim Crow. Sheesh.” I wanted to scream, particularly for my paternal grandparents, who also could not vote for most of their lives (and I am far younger than Whoopi).
But I digress…
I don’t know of an anti-racist history curriculum, but I’ll bet some of ARP’s savvy readers can help. There is a growing list of good anti-racist resources. Check out the Share Your Anti-Racist Resources thread for some tools for fighting this important battle.
Readers, what help can you offer Kris?
P.S. What will it take to convince educators that “dressing up like Indians” for Thanksgiving is as offensive and ignorant as black face? Different Native American tribes wear specific regalia with cultural meaning–the clothes are not costumes–for varying purposes. Just once, I’d like to hear about a school inviting a representative from a local Indian tribe to speak to a class about the impact of Manifest Destiny on indigenous peoples. Sorry–the part about the paper bag costumes got to me.