Sunday, August 20, 2017

Comparative History Lessons

Enough has been said about whether statues are erected as history lessons or to honor people who protected collective values.  I don't think it's hard to see through the rhetoric of those discussions.

But I'd like to share this tidbit about comparative history teaching, from South AfricanTrevor Noah's Born A Crime.
"In Germany, no child finishes high school without learning about the Holocaust.  Not just the facts of it but the how and the why and the gravity of it - what it means.  As a result, Germans grow up appropriately aware and apologetic.  British schools treat colonialism the same way, to an extent.  Their children are taught the history of the empire with a kind of disclaimer hanging over the whole thing.  “Well, that  was shameful, now wasn’t it?” 
In South Africa, the atrocities of apartheid have never been taught that way.  We weren’t taught judgment or shame.  We were taught history the way it’s taught in America.  In America, the history of racism is taught like this:  “There was slavery and then there was Jim Crow and then there was Martin Luther King Jr. and now it’s done.”  It was the same for us.  “Apartheid was bad.  Nelson Mandela was freed.  Let’s move on.”  Facts, but not many, and never the emotional or moral dimension."
For those who need more clarification on how the US has treated slavery and its aftermath, I refer you to some posts I made on the book White Rage.
Part I   Looks at how the Supreme Court essentially nullified the rights blacks had won with the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th and 14th Amendments.
Part II  follows up with a list of court decisions and their practical implications,  and
Part III, which looks at more modern times - the great migration of blacks from the South, Brown v. Board of Education and its aftermath, and up to today with our Attorney General who was born in Selma, Alabama in time to be embroiled on the white side of the civil rights movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.