Noting the complaint that “appears at least once on my students’ course evaluations: ‘too much time on race’ ” every time he teaches American history, Donald Earl Collins adds, “A small but persistent minority of my students seem to want their U.S. history a certain way — the story of Europeans escaping political persecution and religious oppression for the pristine wilderness of the New World, of people building the greatest nation that has dominated the world with its military, its capitalism and its brand of democracy. It’s not only possible to teach a U.S. history course like this, it’s normal. . . . There’s also Indian removal, the stealing of land from Mexican Americans in the Southwest, Southern and Eastern European immigrants and the idea that Irish, Italian, and Polish newcomers weren’t white (scientific racism), Jim Crow, lynchings, race riots, black migration, Mexican migration, the assimilation of white ethnics, the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. This list is hardly exhaustive, but its topics are the key ones in any U.S. history course. . . .Race is central to almost every aspect of American life. Yet for some students, I’m ‘anti-patriotic’ for talking about it.”
Is this what your children are being taught? Is this what you were taught? Do you know this history or do you need to fill in the gaps in your U.S. history education? If the latter, you can start with the Not in Our Town resource list (click here) and attend some of the many events we list on the blog. Advocate for truer, more inclusive history courses in your children’s schools and the training of teachers to teach them.
To read Donald Earl Collins complete op ed, click here.