Growing up in a Northern suburban school system, there was so much about Black history that we were not taught. After all, it was the 1950s.
We were not taught that Southern churches espoused that Blacks had no souls. A lie created in order to justify the enslavement of a whole race of people, but to still feel comfortable facing God each Sunday morning.
We were not taught that there were thriving cities within the countries of Africa. The so-called dark continent was not all about savages running half-naked through the jungle.
We were not taught that white Europeans and black Africans engaged in commerce with each other as equals. That the image of an inferior race was perpetuated in order to provide free labor for building the economy of what would become the southern United States.
We were not taught that George Washington, the revered “Father” or our country, himself owned slaves.
We were not taught that it was common for the masters of Southern plantations to creep down to the slave quarters and sire little brown babies. When their mulatto sons and daughters were of working age, they were often brought into the mansion as house slaves. A slap in the face not only to the female rape victim, but also to the black male head-of-household. A slap in the face to the white mistress of the manor who, on a daily basis, was confronted with her husband’s golden-brown offspring.
We were not taught about Northern institutional racism. The term was not yet part of our vocabulary. We were brainwashed into believing that the only true racists were in the South. After all, in the North, there were no actual laws against Blacks living in certain neighborhoods, attending certain schools, or being excluded from a whole host of private sector jobs. Yet there was covert racial discrimination in those societal institutions. Years back, this went under the heading of that’s just the way things are and we should be grateful that we did not live in the South, the land of Jim Crow and lynchings.
We were not taught that there was a systematic brainwashing creating Blacks as an inferior race through the depiction of savages worshiping totems, or images of pickaninnies and black-faced minstrels.
We were not taught that the misrepresentations and omissions of our childhood education would spawn generations of Americans whose misguided views of race, lingering into adulthood, shape attitudes and polices even now in 2020.