It is no secret that America has had a hard time truly accepting the atrocities of its past. From the blatant "brushing over" of slavery as a substantial and pivotal moment in America's history to the near and almost complete erasure of the fact that Native Americans called this land HOME first, America has had a nasty knack for promoting itself as this grand "melting pot," open to all, but truly only committed to serving and benefiting the few (the Caucasian). The pursuit for freedom and happiness has always been conditional, though America has tried very hard to masquerade as a country full of UN-conditional love. Yet, what America fails to forget, that which is done in the dark will always rise to the light. Slowly, but surely, its ugly is starting to show and America is having a difficult time trying to mend its image within the eyes of its own and those outside looking in.
Seemingly, failing at doing just that, "mending," America still has a long way to go before its wrongs are made right. Even despite, many still have a muster seed size of hope. Hope for a better today. Hope for a better tomorrow. Because, unlike before, those left with their voices smothered and oppressed, are now bringing awareness to the sides of the story, the sides America is most ashamed of. With voices ringing high and proud, the light is being shown on what has been systematically swept into the dark. And because knowledge is power and sharing that power is where change can begin to start, many of these strides to right the wrongs of America's past are starting at the foundation: in the home.
Because the falsehoods and misrepresentations of America’s beginnings have been tailored to glorify the Caucasian, it only makes sense that to avoid continuing to pass flawed historical facts, the planting of seeds infused with the truth are pertinent to educating the youth of today on what has been lost and hidden from the tailored history books. One beautiful example of this can be seen with one young black student’s journal entry to his teacher regarding the “whitewashing” of the history lesson taught in class.
After speaking with his mother about the meaning of Columbus Day as explained by his teacher that day in class, eight-year-old King Johnson, crafted his journal entry explaining to his teacher his frustrations with that day’s lesson and the lies clearly infused within the lesson taught. With his mother taking the time to use Columbus Day – a day students are awarded off from attending school in celebration of a moment in history that is highly controversial – King learned a bit deeper into the history of the foundation of America, starting with the Native America’s preexistence in America prior to Columbus sailing to the Americas. Beginning his letter with the blunt truth that, “Today was not a good learning day. Blah, blah, blah,” he wrote. “I only wanted to hear you not talking. You said something wrong and I can’t listen when I hear lies.” King aptly reminds his teacher about the plight of the Native Americans and how it would essentially be impossible for Columbus to have founded America when the Native Americans were already here. Finishing his entry with the pivotal question: “How can white people teach black history?” King opens the door for the teacher to have a dialogue with him about how to begin the process of “mending," as well as righting the falsehoods in the version of history being taught to him and his peers.
Unfortunately, missing the opportunity to use King’s journal entry as a moment to address the misguided information presented in the history lesson, King’s teacher responds to his entry with the note that she was “very disappointed” in what he wrote in his journal. King’s, simple, yet matter of fact, response to his teacher’s disappointment was: “OK.” Ending the dialogue.
Though, his teacher never answers his questions or continues the dialogue, it can be noted that King’s understanding of how lying only brings out a dark side in people is a decisive moment that cannot be missed. King believes that “truth,” “trust,” and “love” should be at the forefront of things we do and say. Anything less simply will not do. And for a young boy to recognize such an important revelation so early is truly a testament to how great his foundations within his home life are setting him up for great success. We cannot begin to right wrongs with the same misguided information that has been drilled into our heads. We must right those wrongs with the actual truth. No matter how painful the truth is. And what is more disappointing is the fact that King’s teacher didn’t see the grand opportunity to use this moment as a springboard to address the conflicts riddled in America’s history. Yet, it is also no surprise that King's journal entry didn't get the response it truly deserved.
Needless to say, America will not be able to mend and grow past it’s history until it can finally stand in its TRUTH. Until then, progress will be slow to nonexistent. In the meantime, the teaching moments that happen outside of the school system – which is still designed to uphold history books that blatantly leave out, brush over or modify moments in history to sugar coat it into manageable bites – and within the homes will be vital to the continuous uncovering of the hidden realities. Bringing awareness to the scars cosmetically covered over will be the only way that the real picture is unveiled.
Desiring to read the full story as well as King Johnson’s actual journal entry to his teacher, you can fulfill that need by following the link provide below: Black Voices: This Kid’s Letter To His Teacher For ‘Lying’ About Christopher Columbus Needs To Be Framed written by, Taryn Finley.
Remember, as always, to read, share and repeat. Knowledge is power and the sharing of the knowledge cultivates even more power. So, always, always, always, remember to share. Alas, enjoy.
:: Post Rationalizing(s)
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.―