COLUMN: We need to teach all of Black history

Ellen+Dooley

Ellen Dooley

Ellen Dooley, Columnist

In most classrooms, you are taught about the colonization of the world by Europe. Then you get to the colonization of the Americas. We are taught that the African people were brought here against their will and forced into slavery. Then we fast forward to the Civil Rights Movement. Then it just kind of stops. 

We are not taught African history like we’re taught medieval history. In my case, I can tell you more about mathematical processes I will never use again than I can about African people and their culture. Why are we taught European history more than African history? 

Most teachers do not have a choice of what they can teach, but why not make waves to show what should be taught? Black students are taught the history of their kidnappers rather than the history of their own ancestors.

Instead, some students just stare confusedly at cultural traditions, but know exactly what is happening in Medieval Times. Is this because we have seemed to block out African history? We teach kids about the queens and kings of England, but not about the leaders of African nations.  

The only classes that involved a deep discussion of African history is when I came to EIU. Back home, there was nothing like African American studies. But then again, I came from a smaller school with a population the size of a class in a bigger school. I guess it would have to depend on how many teachers were able or knowledgeable enough to teach a course with the correct content.  

We tend to have a “white-washed” or “Americanized” textbook. When it comes to the horrors of slavery, it tends to be shrunk into a reprimand instead of realizing what early Americans did. Then again, a lot of textbooks tend to leave out other things too. But why? We need to teach everything for students to get a non-biased education. That starts with including everything about where the people in this nation came from. 

We uprooted the African people from their homes and cultures, there is no doubt, but we need to teach students about African history as much as we teach European history. Our nation was colonized by white Europeans and people think that this nation was only built by them. They are wrong. 

There is a melting pot of different people who built this country to what it is today. It was mostly built on the backs of minorities. Either voluntary immigration or forced slavery shaped the infrastructure of early America. We need to teach our children this. 

We should not just teach Black history during February. African history and cultures need to be taught in our schools just like European history. We all deserve to know the full history of our ancestors and why we are where we are today.  

Ellen Dooley is a sophomore special education standard major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]