On the very first page, Zinn recounted what Christopher Columbus wrote in his log about the Arawak people he encountered upon reaching the new world:
“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawk’s bells. They willingly traded everything they owned …They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features …They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane … They would make fine servants …With fifty men we could subjugate all of them, and make them do whatever we want.”
I don’t have the words to describe how it made me feel as I read about this period of American history.
As a young Asian American growing up in Carmichael, California — a less diverse suburb of Sacramento — I was conflicted about my identity: I never felt totally American because I didn’t look like most in my community, nor did I know anything about being Chinese because I wasn’t from China.
There was nothing in my history books about the contributions of Asians Americans or the discrimination and violence directed at Asians dating back over 100 years. There was just nothing.
My high school US history classroom experience was pretty limited. Upon getting seated in class, I would listen as my teacher would assign a couple of chapters of a dryly written history textbook. We were instructed to answer the questions at the end of each one. Much of what I read highlighted the country’s pioneers, the victors, the politicians, the heads of industry and inventors.
It wasn’t that these historical figures didn’t deserve to occupy space in my textbooks. In fact, as I write this, I am sitting on an airplane flying from the West Coast to the East Coast and marveling at the ingenuity of my means of transport.
But it never occurred to me as a school-aged girl that there might be other sides to the stories I learned in my history class — the stories of the enslaved, the immigrants, the imprisoned, and the exploited.
As Americans, we must continue to ask ourselves: In our quest to democratize this nation and even dominate the world, whose sacrifices may have been overlooked? How can we ensure their stories are never left behind?
When we leave out large swathes of stories of the diverse peoples who call our country home, we effectively erase their contributions and their struggles — and it becomes a lot easier to continually repeat the same mistakes.
#Lisa #Ling #time #rethink #teaching #history #schools
opinions,Lisa Ling: It’s time to rethink how we are teaching history in our schools – CNN