Black History Part II

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TheLoop21 examines the teaching of Black History and its impact on race relations.

TheLoop21 examines the teaching of Black History and its impact on race relations.

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  • 1. PART II - The Miseducation of Black History: Has teaching a more inclusive history improved race relations?
  • 2. Clifton West, Co-Founding Member Black Men Who Mean Business (with Dr. Cornel West and Mike Dailey) “There’s race relations and there’s truth relations. The lasting bond has to be more on the truth relations ... Rather than pushing them under the rug and saying those things no longer matter because look how far you’ve come. “Yes, things are better, and we don’t want to take away from it. Even President Barack Obama is a fulfillment of a dream but he’s not THE fulfillment. There’s too many of us still under the bus. “Just because he got elected doesn’t mean the rest of us are free.”
  • 3. Dr. Tyrone Howard, Associate Professor UCLA Graduate School of Education “It may have helped on a surface level. By that, what I mean is people form these ideas about people who are different from them oftentimes out of ignorance. “Even though I’ve had major critiques and issues with how Black history is taught ... It begins to create some kind of empathy and the question, ‘Why? Why did this happen?’ ... “It at least gets us on the pathway to begin to improve racial relations, and I’m talking about white folks.”
  • 4. Dr. Erin Winkler, Associate Professor University of Wisconson, Dept. of Africology “I think the impact is to further white privilege. “In actuality, racism in the post Civil Rights era is much more coded, it is more hidden. “The result is what we call ‘heroes and holidays’ ... Racial inequity is painted as something in the past that the heroes took care of ... “(Students’) takeaway message is the inequalities that do exist are not due to racial discrimination.”
  • 5. Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor Dept. of Africana Studies, California State University-Long Beach “Although one could say there is now a more ‘inclusive history,’ it is so deficient, it may not improve race relations much, but rather reinforce stereotypes. “If underdevelopment and victimhood are privileged and presented over and against classical civilizations, intellectual history, varied contributions, historical initiative and transformative struggles of Black people, then, one doesn’t have so much an inclusive history, but one which recasts and reinforces stereotypes. “In a word, what is missing is a varied, expansive and dignity-affirming concept of what it is and means to be an African in America.”
  • 6. Keene Walker, History Teacher Atlanta Public Schools, High School “ I think the impact is minimal ... it means we are moving backwards instead of moving forward in terms of race relations. If you look at the Atlanta schools, most of the Black kids are going to school with Black kids, most of the white kids are going to school with white kids. “So we’ve basically re-segregated, but we’ve re-segregated under the guise of neighborhood schooling. Not only is it segregated based on race now, it’s more segregated based on class. “Now you have more affluent Black kids that don’t even want to know about their own culture. If you’re the Lone Ranger, you don’t want to be the outcast, so you fit in and you are just assimilated into that culture that you’ve been thrust into.”
  • 7. Dr. Joel Freeman, President/CEO Freeman Institute Black History Collection, “I’m a big fan of gateways ... what happens is it provides an opportunity to talk about things ... I really think one of the best gateways is the gateway of culture and history. “To have 1,000 kids mesmerized by seeing actual documents and artifacts, and it’s the real thing, and then to tell a story about it and have kids come up afterward and look at it ... That to me is one of the best ways to start engaging people. “The fire it lit under them to make them want to know more, to go home and look it up on Google because they saw the actual piece.”
  • 8. Kevin Cottrell, Public Historian Motherland Connextions Inc., “I can tell you that people that I hear will say ‘Why do we still have Black history month, we’re in a post-racial society?’ They don’t understand that everything is white history anyway. “For me, Black history month is really for white people. For the average person of color, it should be every day. “I don’t really think it betters racial relations. I don’t think people suddenly become more gregarious in February than in other months. Sometimes I call it Black hysteria month. I see church groups coming out -- they will do it for Black history month but they won’t do the same program in September or July.”