Relearning history k-12 that hasn't been white-washed?
July 15, 2020 3:11 PM   Subscribe

What resources are out there for a non white supremacist or colonialist curriculum?

I grew up in the US, I'm white, 34 so was in k-12 '91 through '04.

I never persued history after HS. I am learning just how inaccurate and white centered all of the history I've been taught has been... All of it, from when I was in kindergarten to art history in my senior year. I feel manipulated and want to get the education this system should have given me.

Are there any resources where I can relearn history, but this time using a curriculum that is accurate and isn't just centered on white colonialism? And that shows its actual affects? I want to learn what Africans invented, what revolutions the Chinese went through and why, Polynesian social and art movements, US history from a non white supremacist lens... Just everything I don't know that I don't know.

I've read A People's History by Howard Zinn, but that's basically it as far as education. Any online courses? YouTube channels? A syllabus with recommended reading plus coursework?

posted by moons in june to Education (10 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Douglas Blackmun, Slavery by Another Name and Eric Foner for Reconstruction, aka the era you probably didn't learn about in school.

Sociology: W.E.B. DuBois and the concept of double-consciousness.

Israel/Palestine and the concept of Orientalism: Edward Said (interview that I haven't seen but it's going on my watch-later list now).

The History of White People
by Nell Irvin Painter.

The Great Migration: I'm ashamed to say I've had The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) on my shelf forever and I still haven't read it. Also Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor) for a fictionalized young adult narrative of a family struggling to keep their land in the 1930s South, if you didn't read it in school.

I'm also meaning to browse through this reading list on race in the Medieval period.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:57 PM on July 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

The Standing Rock Syllabus aimed at something like this--a DIY course with short lectures, a quick reference timeline, and a ton of free readings.

The Bedford Series in History and Culture probably isn't uniformly decolonial/antiracist in outlook, but it covers a wide range of places, times, and issues, and I like its focus on guiding the reader through original sources, because that's what I find most engaging in history: reading portions of the Federal Writers' Project's slave narrative collections (see also) or Woman Suffrage and Politics or the dream journal of Tipu Sultan or whatnot that benefit from looking around for context but that are also just amazing and readable in themselves.
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:49 PM on July 15, 2020 [6 favorites]

Also recommend Lies, which I am currently re-reading. It’s great.
posted by bq at 8:39 PM on July 15, 2020

I would start with a book that gives you a big overview of American history through the prism of anti-blackness and white supremacy. One book I would recommend for this is The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette. Another good one is Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi.

After gaining an outline of a non-white American history through either of these books, I would move on to any of the books that bq recommends above. Another absolutely indispensable one is of course The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. In fact, if you haven't read it, you may even want to start there, as I don't think you can understand this moment in our history without having read that book.

If you want to get really ambitious and follow a curriculum, some academics put together a Trump Syllabus a few years ago that has some great recommended readings.

And if you want to jump in with something more tactile and intuitive, a friend of mine put together this art and activism project a few years ago called The Knotted Line that I think is brilliant.
posted by Alsdaskindkindwar at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
posted by ChuraChura at 5:12 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

It looks like most of what you're getting is recommended reading. It's not what you asked for, and I grant that, but I think that's largely what you're going to be getting.

Nthing "Lies My Teacher Told Me" as a book recommendation. It looks at "how high school history classes got that way" as much as it does history itself, so that makes for a fascinating approach. Two other supplementary books that deal with "how history is taught" as much as they do the history are History Lessons and History In The Making, both of which examine history through various high school history textbooks - but with a twist. With "History Lessons", they pull excerpts from other countries' textbooks to get their perspectives on American history - like, they'll quote the Norwegian perspective on Vikings starting a settlement in Canada, or the British perspective of the Revolutionary War, or the North Korean perspective of the Korean War, etc.

In History In The Making, they examine American history textbooks, but from different time periods; the editor selects a set of big events in American history, and then quotes from US textbooks in different time periods. So for something like "The War of 1812", you'll see first what a textbook from 1820 had to say, then one from 1860, then 1890, then 1914, then 1940, then 1990. You get the idea. Those are both fascinating illustrations both of how other countries' perspectives on us can be far different from our own self-perception, and also can let us trace how our own attitudes towards ourselves have changed - and how some of those attitudes may have cast shadows on other things. (In the section discussing the Mexican American War, they quote from a 1890 textbook that casts the whole thing in this sort of epic race-war fashion which I always find very, very telling of racial attitudes.)

Another rich source of info: Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe. This is a five-volume graphic novel that is one of the most exhaustively researched world history books I've ever read. It does indeed address corners of the world which typically don't get addressed, which I think you're looking for. And don't let the fact that it's a graphic novel put you off - this guy knows his shit. This is one of a few "cartoon guides to...." books he does, and they're so well-done that they're often used as supplementary reading in college courses.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Someone upthread recommended her more recent book, but I like Nell Irvin Painter's Creating Black Americans because its a combination of history and art history. It uses works of art to give context to the history. Also, the print book is beautiful. It's got "coffee table" book glossy pages with nice color photos, but its a manageable size to actually hold and read.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2020

I’m also reading Lies My Teacher Told Me and it’s meaty and often mindblowing (you and I are roughly the same age and it sounds like we were similarly educated). It’s not a fast read as there’s so much to reflect on, I appreciate the thoroughness and critical thinking in each chapter. It’s given me a large bibliography to check out afterwards — I agree it’s a good starting point because you’ll be able to identify the biggest gaps in your knowledge and then go from there.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2020

I've been watching late night shows like Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Jimmy Kimmel. They've all had Black guests on and have been having in-depth conversations about Black history, white supremacy, current events and ideas on how to help. I've learned more Black history in the last six weeks from watching these shows than I did in fifteen years of US public schools. Also important, it's a newish - and sadly eye-opening- sight to see so many Black people and voices on popular TV.
posted by bendy at 11:23 AM on July 18, 2020

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