By A. PETER BAILEY
I truly understand why most Whites and their “Black” allies are so angry with the Critical Race Theory approach to teaching American History. After all, for some 400 years they and their ancestors have gotten away with misinforming and often lying about that history in educational institutions throughout the country. For instance, from elementary to high school to three years in the U.S. military, I was never taught the real deal about this country’s history, especially when it came to people of African descent.
My introduction to Black history came when I was a 20 year-old freshman at Howard University. On the first day of class our history professor, Dr. Harold Lewis, said, “ALL of your lives you have mainly studied the history of people of European descent. In this class you will study the history of the rest of the people in the world.”
Thus began my learning the true history of this country. For instance, I learned that 24 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson, were enslavers of African men, women and children. Despite this, they signed a document that stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” When reading this one can only conclude that Jefferson and his cohorts didn’t consider enslaved Africans as human beings.
Further along in the much-hallowed Declaration, the signers attacked the King of Great Britain with the following, “He has plundered our seas ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people…” which is exactly what proponents of the critical race theory insists they did to African people. By the way, many, if not most, of the other 32 signors of the Declaration of Independence may not have been slave owners, but they did provide the ships that transported African men, women and children to North and South America and the Caribbean. Thus, they benefited financially.
Black folks who celebrate historical days honoring enslavers of African people are ignoring what Amos N. Wilson wrote in his book, The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness: Eurocentric History, Psychiatry and the Politics of White Supremacy “… The History of the oppressed, as written by the oppressor, shapes the consciousness and psychology of both oppressed and oppressor. It helps to legitimate the oppressive system and to maintain and imbalance of power and favor of the oppressor ….”
We, as Black folks, will greatly benefit educationally, psychologically and financially if we celebrate and honor, among others, the warriors and events cited in Lerone Bennett Jr’s book, Great Moments in Black History: Wade in the Water.
- Peter Bailey is a journalist, author and lecturer. He was an associate of Malcolm X’s and a member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
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