Shaunese Johnson, 22, says learning black history requires more than textbook snippets. (Photo by Brian Cook/PublicSource)

Caged. That’s how I would describe my state of mind during my school years. I think the content of textbooks and lessons is to blame. From my elementary school, I remember textbooks and lectures geared toward the achievement of people who looked nothing like me. I learned about the Boston Tea Party, World War I and World War II. Teachings on African-American history were greatly reduced to only learning about slavery in the South, lynching and oppression.

In my high school, Perry Traditional Academy, I realized what had been missing from my textbooks was the history of my culture, knowledge and authenticity. A “successful” person was usually White, suggesting that, “This is what you have to look like in order to be successful.” If African Americans were in the curriculum at all, they usually disappeared as soon as Black History Month was over.

Schools have created a “one size fits all” curriculum, just like standardized testing, ultimately designed for students to study and forget the material, or fail altogether in a “White mainstream” division.




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