While there may be much to dread, much to regret, even fear, there is much more to be gained in knowing all the history of America. How can the nation rid itself of systemic racism, inequality, miscarriages of justice if it refuses to fully understand how and why we came to be where we are today? Why all the animus and objection to the teaching of “Critical Race Theory.” How can we possibly believe that we will be able to make meaningful and lasting changes that are so sorely needed in the area of race relations in this country?
Not to fully acknowledge ALL of America’s history—the good, the great, the bad, the despicable—is to forever operate in a false reality, to forever be sabotaged by the blind spots. We are only fooling ourselves to our detriment, thwarting what this nation can become and diminishing its march to real greatness. Knowing all the history of America can only lead to a better path forward.
You need not take my word for it. How many of you want to know the accurate and complete history of your family? What benefits do you gain? How does knowing your own history help you to chart a course for your life, whether it is the same or better? Knowing that history may not be all good. You may discover things that bring deep pain. The same is true with knowing all the history of America. So why all the fight against it?
What does denying it really gets us? Only temporal and temporary comfort. The adage that what is done in the dark will come to light rings true. It may take decades. It may take centuries. But the truth will be revealed. We see instances of that all around us. Then why not be committed in knowing all the history of America, going forward. Why not include it our history books, in the curricula being taught at our schools and higher institutions of learning. Sadly, that is not occurring at the level and the degree it should.
Look at the recent revelations about the experiences of blacks brought to light by The New York Times 1619 Project and the Black Wall Street Massacre in Oklahoma to name a few. Look at the atrocities against Native Americans being brought to light by the discovery of mass grave sites in Kansas and Pennsylvania with the bodies of hundreds of Native American children. Yes, the atrocities and injustices perpetrated against blacks and Native Americans are painful. They are ugly. Yet many of us would rather continue to bury our heads in the sand. We show little interest in knowing all of the history of America that allowed such inhumanity to occur.
Even worse yet, there are fights in the Halls of the United States Congress, in state legislatures, in our educational institutions and communities to stop and keep this side of American history in the dark, from being told. Is it just the name, “Critical Race Theory,” that is causing such heart burn? Doubtful. The prospect of finally knowing all of American history is the real problem.
This denial and fear is grossly misplaced. Our ancestors were the perpetrators and victims alike. Hiding, omitting, and not knowing all the history of America has delayed and prevented efforts to put the nation on a healthy path when it comes to racial equality and overall healing.
While those egregious acts cannot be undone, we can neither absolve, totally insulate ourselves, nor live a life of detachment. So, why not acknowledge that those dreadful things indeed did happen, try to fix it. If not fix it, commit to charting a different path to stop the vestiges of those actions that still linger and cause grave harm today. That is what embracing and knowing all the history of America will do. Or, should do.
So, on with the efforts to have an accurate and complete accounting of American history. What kind of future is in store for this country if we do not?