On the heels of the end of Black History Month in February, we begin Women’s History Month in March. I guess as a Black woman this is my prime time of year, huh? Not. The best time of year to learn about the contributions that Black people and women have made to American History is all year long. It’s crazy how marginalized groups get a month to celebrate. It’s like a consolation prize for not being included in curriculum and taught during the other eleven months of the year.
The Anglo-Saxon patriarchally-dominant curriculum that students in New York are taught is damaging and filled with lies. So many fables and half-truths taught as facts, taught as if these men were undeniably great men. Case in point: I learned about Thomas Jefferson being a founding father of this country and a key player in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence; however, it wasn’t until I was a young adult researching and reading on my own that I learned about his enslaved African-American lover and mother of several of his children, Sally Hemmings. How convenient that that narrative was omitted from the textbooks. Where is Sally Hemmings’ story in the curriculum or the history books? Keep looking and tell me when you find it.
According to Feminism and Education,
What we teach the students of New York needs to be probed, dissected, and overhauled. We need to immediately commit to diversity and the inclusion of the narratives of people and groups whose voices have been purposefully omitted from classrooms across this City and State.
This is a tangible response to the cries of Black Lives Matter and #Me Too in our society in recent years.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the NYC Department of Education did put together some resources that educators can turn to to teach about women during this month. That’s all well and good but one month isn’t enough. Women’s history all year long! Black history all year long! Hispanic heritage (celebrated in October) all year long! In every facet of our students’ education and in every content area, they should be asked essential questions like “who were the marginalized groups in society at this time?,” “what were they doing?, “what obstacles did they face?,” and “how, if at all, have they been integrated into this field of study and/or mainstream society?”
These and additional questions only begin to scratch the surface of the plethora of contributions that those unheard from and repeatedly unrecognized — like African-Americans and women — have made towards the advancement of the United States of America. It’s time we clarify the dominant, skewed narrative and teach the children of New York the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the White men who are revered as pseudo demi-gods. They were deeply greedy, flawed, selfish men who lied, stole, killed, and destroyed whole cultures of people for the sake of land acquisition and the almighty dollar.
Don’t believe me? Does the name Christopher Columbus ring a bell? Let’s ditch the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria mumbo-jumbo, and start teaching about the diseases he infected the native people with which ultimately killed them. Let’s teach about the Trail of Tears and all the broken treaties on the part of White men that stole the native people of their indigenous land.
In the face of these atrocities and so many more, disenfranchised people have always had male and female leaders and found ways to rise up against these oppressive and destructive forces. Their stories need to be taught. With that, Happy Women’s History Month.