American History is a topic taught from a very early age. Once a prominent name, such as George Washington, is mentioned in a classroom setting, children have automatically begun to learn about the origins of our country. Throughout time we are taught about the founding fathers, the creation of democracy, about the great presidents of the United States, and how it is they built this country from the ground up. Whether it is a subject that interests us or not, by the time we graduate high school, they program us to believe that we leave knowing the fundamentals of American History. We have memorized the important facts, and everything else is considered details. However, it turns out we’ve barely scratched the surface, and those who do deserve just as much recognition as figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, are barely mentioned. By not discussing them, we gradually erase their image, and the impact they had on creating the very pillars the United States now stands on, is handed to someone else. Someone… whiter.
The 1619 Project was introduced to us in August of 2019 by New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. The project was a remembrance of the 400th anniversary of when enslaved Africans were forcefully shipped to the original English colonies. The project aims to redirect the narrative of the United States’ History by openly recognizing the slavery that has taken place in this country since slaves were first kidnapped and transported here. It means to bring recognition to the impact that Black Americans have had on the foundation of the very nation that still abuses them to this day. Jones opened the eyes of many when she published this piece. People started realizing schools were excluding vital information from their lessons for the sole purpose of keeping the images of the original so-called “American founders” clean, even though many of them owned and abused slaves themselves. Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for this publication in 2020 as people questioned the fundamentals of American History schools are teaching.
Last week Trump decided he was going to use the 1619 Project as another excuse to avoid dealing with the pandemic that has murdered over 200,000 Americans. He revealed the 1776 Commission, which he stated would aim to promote “patriotic education.” This move will create a grant that will develop a “pro-American curriculum” for children in the states. This course of action undermines Jones’ Project while simultaneously promoting Trump’s publicly decrying claims that the History currently being taught in classrooms is “a form of child abuse.” He states the 1619 Project is a “twisted web of lies” and is anti-American. Well, as it turns out with some basic 21st-century research, it is revealed that slavery and racial abuse among the white heroes we praise so often is VERY American.
Watching the president of the United States speak these words, I realize that our country is becoming increasingly whitewashed. Now he wants to continue burying the History of those who built this country on their bare backs more than we already have? Can’t you see how big of a problem this is?! Why should America’s History only be taught from one point of view? It doesn’t seem right. We don’t let England tell everyone that when we rebelled, we were a terrorist organization with the sole purpose of overthrowing monarchical power. So why shouldn’t Black America’s History be taught the same way ours is? It’s not fear-mongering, it’s not lies. People aren’t pinning Americans against each other by doing so. It is what it is, history.
I write this piece out of both disbelief and anger. I can not believe that we are still debating this subject. I can not believe that America is still unwilling to discuss the abuse that Black America has been enduring since they were involuntarily brought over on ships to the original colonies. We say history is key to a successful future, but then deny our true origins out of shame. It is time that white America puts our shame aside and does what is best, support the 1619 Project, which promotes an education that tells the story of the oppressed.