Lisa Ling: It’s time to rethink how we’re teaching history in our schools

On the very first page, Zinn recounts what Christopher Columbus wrote in his log about the Arawak people he encountered upon his arrival in the New World:

“They … brought us parrots and cotton balls and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for glass beads and eagle bells. They willingly traded everything they owned … They were well built, good bodies and beautiful features… They don’t have weapons, and don’t know them, because I showed them a sword, they took it by the side and cut themselves ignorantly. They didn’t have any iron No. Their spears are made of cane… They made good servants… With fifty men we could have subdued them all, and made them do whatever we wanted.”

till that moment, Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, was always in my mind reserved for parades or barbecues—a day to celebrate the origins of America. After reading Zinn’s book, the holiday turned into something more: a reminder of the origins of the conquest, displacement, and even genocide of our nation. This knowledge will compel me to learn more about — and even advocate — our native brothers and sisters, who were violently evicted from the land we call home.
Shortly after reading Zinn’s book, I became aware of another dark episode in American history concerning people who looked like me—something that happened during World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese government in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt released executive order 9066 which forcibly removed Japanese-Americans from their homes and in prison camps.
that order 120,000 people were imprisoned, including 17,000 children, for years. Fear spread throughout the country that anyone who was even 1/16th Japanese could spy against the United States government.

I have no words to describe how I felt when I read about this period in American history.

As a young Asian American growing up in a less diverse suburb of Sacramento — Carmichael, California — I was conflicted about my identity: I never felt fully American because I didn’t seem like the most in my community. Nor did I know anything about being Chinese because I was not from China.

There was nothing in my history books about the contributions of Asian Americans or the discrimination and violence directed at Asians over 100 years old. There was just nothing.

When there is no reference to include one, it becomes easy to overlook and even dehumanize the entire population. one of the reasons In the wake of the COVID pandemic, it has become so easy to scapegoat Asians, that’s because it’s a community that some people may not recognize as belonging here.
In June 2020, I opened social media and I saw people posting about Juneteenth. Although I had heard the term before, I had no idea what a momentous moment it was in American history: the official end of slavery. I was ashamed for not knowing about it, but I can’t remember that it was ever included in my history books.
Author of the epic bestselling book, “Cast: The Origins of Our Discontents,” isabelle wilkerson Recently posted something on her social media that gave me a lot of pause: “It won’t be until the year 2111 that African Americans are no longer enslaved. No adult living today will see the day that African Americans will have freedom and bondage.” equality was reached between
This was the catalyst for the desire to dedicate On this season of my show “This Is Life” To discover events in American history that do not make it into many history books but continue to affect our country today.
The inner enthusiasm I felt to revisit these histories is one reason, for me, as many say, the current opposition to teaching it. “Critical Race Theory” is confusing. The term, which is actually applied to a set of pedagogical principles that originated in legal theory, has come to mean the teaching of all race-related issues in school. When immigration and race have played such an important role in the development of our nation, what happens when we are afraid to correct past errors around these issues?
Illinois becomes first state to require Asian American history to be taught in public schools

My high school US history class experience was pretty limited. As I sat in class, I listened as my teacher would assign a few chapters from a dry-written history textbook. We were instructed to answer the questions at the end of each. Most of what I read highlighted the country’s pioneers, winners, politicians, industry leaders and innovators.

It was not that these historical figures did not deserve a place in my textbooks. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting on an airplane flying from the west coast to the east coast and marveling at the simplicity of its modes of transportation.

But as a school-age girl, it never occurred to me that the stories I learned in my history class could have other sides – tales of slaves, immigrants, prisons and the oppressed.

As Americans, we must continue to ask ourselves: In our quest to democratize this country and even dominate the world, whose sacrifices can be overlooked? How can we make sure their stories are never left behind?

When we leave out the large swath of stories from the diverse people who call our country home, we effectively erase their contributions and their struggles – and it becomes all too easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.


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