Why Every Black Person Should Study Black American History

Understand the cloth you’re cut from.

I hated history, and even more so Black History.

When the only Black History that is taught is slavery and struggle, you get sick of that shit.

What does it do to a black boy’s mind when the first thing that he learns of his ancestors is that they were slaves.

Black History as taught in American public education:

Black were slaves. Honest Abe Lincoln finally freed the slaves out of the kindness of his heart. Black people, or n*ggers, as they were called in those days had no rights and got lynched. A lot.

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for civil rights because he had a dream. Rosa Parks sat on a bus.

The Civil Rights Era was progressive for ‘negroes’, until King was assassinated. Somehow he was hated enough by America to be the target of an assassination, but loved enough when dead to be memorialized.

The words that Carter G. Woodson wrote in the Miseducation of the Negro back in 1933, are still applicable the Black American almost 100 years later if we do not realize what we are up against in these American public schools.

In most schools across the country, students are gettting a Eurocentric point of view. Standard subjects that are tested, proven, and do not change such as math and science are going to be what they are. But when it comes to history, literature, philosophy, and subjects that are more subjective, you’re going to get the white version.

Black students can go through a whole K — 12 never being able to articulate Black people’s contribution’s to society, being offered every language except any African languages, and studying every great writer or philosopher that is not Black.

That’s how a Black and White student can sit in the same class and get a completely different understanding of their place in the world.

That lack of history and not knowing where we’re from can lead to a lack of self-worth. How could one be proud of a heritage that seems to be essentially worthless in our history books?

Not knowing our true history of how we got to where we are as Black Americans will have us repeating the same cycles. History can serve as our roadmap to the future if we allow it to. But in order to do that, we have to understand that the history we are being taught is literally ‘his story’.

And he, in this case, happens to be an Anglo-Saxon white person.

Re-imagining Black History

Imagine what it would do to a Black boy or girl’s confidence if the first piece of history they were taught was that the first civilizations that were built were built by people who looked just like them, instead of that they came from slaves.

How would Black people think of themselves if they understood that the foundation that our society is built on today is based on a foundation that began in the Nile River Valley, not Rome or anywhere else in Europe?

I wonder if Black people would think of themselves differently if they were taught that Africans were not uncivilized before the slave trade, but actually already had developed metrics for math, science, and telling time.

If children in school were taught that Europeans did not buy and sell slaves, rather they bought and sold doctors, philosophers, craftsmen, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, would slavery sound more unbearable instead of a moment in history that is glossed over?

If Black children were introduced to the writings of Fredrick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, or Langston Hughes, would they get a better understand of who they are through the eyes of their ancestors?

If school put slavery in a curriculum as part of Black history and taught it in a way in which Black Americans understood why they were enslaved in the first place, how slavery attributed to the world economy, and why effects of slavery are present in today’s society, would so many Black Americans still be willing to just go along with the status quo?

How many children know that the Washington Monuments currently standing are based on African architecture that was developed hundred of years ago?

How many children know that the story of the movie ‘Lion King’ is based off stories of African Gods?

The Value Of Real Black History

As Black Americans, most of us don’t know our history because we have to go out of our way to find it. We must seek out history written by us from our point of view, because most of us aren’t going to get that in school.

Knowing your own history comes with a better knowledge of self.

The value in our history is that history is where we find value in ourselves. Part of Black American history is slavery, but on a timeline of overall Black history, slavery would only be a small part of that timeline.

How can we, as Black Americans, move from under the boot of oppression in America if we do not understand how and why we got to this point of becoming an underclass in America if we do not study history broken down by Dr. Claud Anderson?

How can we, as Black Americans, understand what we’re up against if we do not understand that racism white supremacy is a fight for white genetic survival as written by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing?

The history and teachings that we need in order to move forward as a whole exists and has been written and broken down for us, however it is up to us to seek that knowledge, because we have clearly seen that it is not going to be given to us.

“There’s nothing new under the sun.”

Through studying history, man has learned that history repeats itself. And the history of the suffering of Black Americans will continue to repeat itself if we do not study our history to change our futures.

In Dr. King’s book ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos’, we learn from Dr. King himself that a government strategy to co-opt the movement was to insert provocateurs at protests in order to start chaos to de-legitimize the movement.

Is the same thing not happening today?

I understand many colleges have began taking away African American Studies as part of their curriculum being that African American Studies may not translate into a job in the workforce.

It’s a good thing that you don’t need a degree to study Black American history!

Knowing Black history outside of just slavery translates into self-worth, self-esteem, and knowledge of self.

It’s inevitable for Black Americans to think differently about themselves if they knew that their ancestors contributed to society just as much, if not more, than other group, including actually building the foundation for the current society in which we live.

In our history, we not only find out how we got to where we are, but also the way to a better future.

There is knowledge to gain in our true history. And knowledge is power, if we use it.


Justin Patton

Spoken word artist and writer. Living my life and writing about it along the way, it just might inspire somebody. IG: @iamjustinpatton

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