We Need To Teach The Truth About America's History

We Need To Teach The Truth About America's History

While there are so many great aspects to our nation, it's unrealistic to deny the dark history that has taken place in our country.
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I'm 21 years old and I've spent 18 of those years in school. I've spent far more time receiving an education than not, as have many of my peers, and those teachings have been critical in making me the individual I am today. However, the older I grow and more life experiences I have, the more I am recognizing that not everything I have learned is true. I'm surrounded by individuals who have gone to different schools, had different educators and learned things that vary from the information that was taught to me.

Who decides what we learn and how we learn it? If two students learn different material, whose knowledge is "right?" It's important to recognize the bias that permeates our education system and to continue to question the material we learn in order to validate it.

Take, for example, the subject of history. It's so important to communicate history in order to prepare for a better future. It's also important to recognize that history is not always positive. Who decides and writes the history that we are taught and our children will be taught? My personal education was informative in teaching about the errors of other nations, but it portrayed the actions of the United States in a positive light. Though there are so many great aspects to our nation, it's unrealistic to deny the dark history that has taken place in our country.

“The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

McGraw Hill printed this caption in their copy of a World Geography textbook that over 150,000 Texas students received that year. Many of those students even mistook the caption for the truth. In a society so diverse, where each family teaches different truths, it is the role of the education system to provide an honest, realistic portrayal of the history of our nation, so that each individual can learn consistently. Although McGraw Hill, upon complaint, instantly apologized regarding their mischaracterization of slavery, the damage was already set in place.

I had my own eye-opening experience regarding history education. I went to a well-off high school in Cary, North Carolina where I took various history classes. I then attended NC State University, where I took a life-changing course entitled Interdependence and Race. In the course, I read the book "Blood Done Sign My Name." Written by Timothy Tyson, the book was a recollection of growing up in North Carolina during Jim Crow laws and intense racial turmoil. The book opened my eyes to the real history of the state that I grew up in. It changed my life.

I took various history courses, but I never learned about the Wilmington race riots. I thought I learned about segregation, but I wasn't informed that it extended so much further than merely having separate water fountains and bus seats. Hidden from my knowledge was the gory truth of violence, of discrimination, of brutal police and societal injustice.

Hidden from me was the true history of my hometown, of my state, and of my nation.

I wasn't the only one having this reaction. My fellow students, upon learning this information, were appalled. Many cried. Anger, frustration, disappointment, and confusion took over as we attempted to make sense of the discrepancies between the knowledge imparted to us and the actual truth.

America is a great nation. It is a melting pot of different cultures whose melange serves to diversify our strengths and form an even stronger society for generations to come. America also has its faults.

By withholding the true accounts of history and censoring the knowledge imparted to students, our educators and schools systems are doing this country and its people a great disservice. Each state fears imparting knowledge upon its citizens that illustrates negative aspects of that region. As a whole, the United States education systems seek to overlook the dark history that outlines our past as a nation, while focusing on the negative aspects of other countries.

During my time in high school, I couldn't tell you many specifics regarding North Carolina's history. All I really knew about slavery was that there were good people that tried to stop it and that Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were instrumental in the movement towards equality. I was taught that Japanese internment camps were once a thing, but they really weren't that brutal, a detail that I have come to realize is far from the truth.

I was also taught the gory, upsetting details of the Holocaust. I knew all about both World Wars, and the negative aspects of each of our non-ally nations. I was taught so much regarding the mistakes made by other countries, all while wearing a blindfold toward my own.

It's time to tell the truth. In order to move forward and fortify our diverse, multiracial nation, we need to practice what we preach in regards to justice and the truth and humbly recognize the dark parts of American history. Slavery, racism, Native American genocide, Japanese oppression, gender inequality--these are all topics that need to be recognized, taught and analyzed so that future generations are educated enough to refrain from making such mistakes. Attempting to erase our history is not going to be an effective way of moving forward as a nation. Education is what will help to eradicate bigotry and prejudice from our society, but it is only effective when the information relayed is entirely truthful, displaying the good and the bad for students to learn from.

Knowledge is power. There are some hard times ahead, but with proper understanding, we can find the strength to overcome and progress. We have eradicated racial discrimination from our laws, but the after-effects of inequality plague us still today.

Only the truth can set us free.

Cover Image Credit: static.memrise.com

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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