|February 9, 2023|
| Black History Month and Founders Day 2023|
The world around us reminds us just how important the story of Black America is to the history of these United States. Black History is American History, and the story of one cannot be told without the other.
We are only beginning to draw ourselves back into history’s picture, tell ourselves back into our country’s tales, and sing unto each other a song that has been hushed too long.
But in these efforts, we too often find ourselves the subject: of damaging media images; myopic public policies, which fail to recognize historic inequities disproportionately affecting people of color; and violent attacks disguised as efforts to protect and serve the public. What is more, these things are not only done to us … but sometimes by us … as we subject ourselves and each other to self-inflicted wounds that cut just us deeply. Increasingly, in my view, it is the effect of sustained trauma—a Stockholm syndrome of sorts—that allows the oppressed to accept the oppressors’ actions as fair, their judgments as valid, and their perceptions as true.
We must be reminded of our ancestors’ sacrifices and of our own worthy ambitions. From the building of the actual wall on New York’s Wall Street to the construction of The White House, to name just two finite examples, Black hands have molded this nation’s economy, infrastructure, society, and culture. We are a constructive force in this country’s history, and our efforts to point out the ways in which that narrative has been twisted—as we seek to study Black history inclusively—do not make us destructive. Those efforts make us analytical, critical, thoughtful, and in the end, hopeful for a better tomorrow.
In recent news, I have read that College Board, the nonprofit body that determines Advanced Placement curricula for America’s high school students, has capitulated to forces that wish to erase, remove, censor, and silence Black history. The new AP African American Studies course that College Board had been congratulated for designing has now been watered down before it even entered a single classroom. In this moment and after (too many) years in the making, College Board has denied access to the subject with one hand even as they perform the gesture of granting it with the other. And so we become subjects once again.
As we celebrate our own Founders Day, I urge us all to consider how stories get told and who tells them so that we may push back and push back hard when we find that we have been rendered invisible or incomplete. And I urge us to do our own necessary work to characterize ourselves wholly and completely.
|Tony Allen, Ph.D.|