History Includes Everyone

{This was written for the Pirate Press, the school newspaper of Harborside Academy. It is shared here due to this writer’s feeling that the ideas expressed in it are important enough to be published on the internet.}

February is Black History Month. March is Women’s History Month. They should not be Black/Women’s History Month, not because the individuals they honor are unimportant, but because history includes everyone.

To have separate months to honor specific groups operates under the same logic as bigotry. The members of the groups, be they black individuals or women, are not important individually but must only be recognized as an aggregate.  By having history months it allows history to be taught in an non-inclusive way other times. It allows the teachers of history to distort and toy with the story of history. As Thaddeus Russell points out in his book, A Renegade History of the United States, the history of the U.S. was originally a story of great men, leaders, inventors, etc. Then, in the 1960s and ‘70s, the teaching of history began to be told as a story of labor leaders, feminists, civil rights activists, and the ilk. However, these people still, as Russell says, “behaved like ‘good’ Americans,” and, “worked to ‘correct’ the people they lead.” In short, the study of history in the United States has not be inclusionary, but exclusionary. Months are dedicated to certain groups history but that merely proves that standard histories hardly include them. It is unsurprising that the teaching of history is so poor. There is relatively little class time to cover thousands of years of recorded human history. Furthermore, the primary educator of students is the State, even private schools end up using State-approved textbooks. This fact means that history taught in schools will have a general tendency to show the State in a good light and those that went against the prevailing standards of the State in a bad light. It is said that the victors write the history books and in the case of the State this is completely true. For example, in schools most students learn that the War Between the States, or Civil War, was a war to end slavery on the part Union and a war to keep slavery on the part of the Confederacy. This story is barely true and cuts out many important facts and people in the history. Such as the fact that according to Rudolph Young, in “Black Confederates,” up to 25% of freed southern black individuals supported the south in the War Between the States. In more recent history, the story of LGBT rights, if ever taught in schools, is told from the side of “good, responsible” groups like the Janus Society, which urged in the 1950s, “all homosexuals to adopt a behaviour code which would be beyond criticism.” The story is not told of the transgendered people that arrived to protest on the 28 of June, 1968, who, when the police arrived to break up the “riot,” began, according to Russell, a “chorus-girl kick line” and sang a provocative song. One of the men that had march for LGBT rights in 1965 stated, “screaming queens forming chorus lines and kicking went against everything I wanted people to think about homosexuals.” What does any of this have to do with history months? Everything. History months are an example of the seriously distorted and down-right incorrect teaching of history in the United States. If the goal of civil rights is equality then history months must be abolished. Every month should be everyone’s history month, because having Black, Women’s, Hispanic, etc. History Month implies that every other month is White Men’s History Months. History is not the story of great leaders, whether military or civil rights, but the story of each individual reaction to the actions of other individuals, their environment, and the metaphysical culture of their day. History months are incorrect, irresponsible, and essentially bigoted. It is the responsibility of every thinking person to educate themselves. Not be educated by the State, and to question the story of history they are taught by officials.

[Extensive reference is made to Russell, T. (2010). A Renegade History of the United States. Free Press: New York.]

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