Educating Yourself

August 25, 2020

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Person sitting at a table with books, a phone, and a journal
Photo Courtesy: Pexels

How Can I... 

Welcome back! Today's blog is entitled "How can I educate myself?"

To get us started, we're going to talk about the idea that what you think you know about American history is probably wrong. Specifically, what you were taught about slavery, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the civil rights movement; everything that has led us to the existence of racism in today's society IS PROBABLY WRONG.

A 2018 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center indicates a widespread misunderstanding of slavery in American high school students. Only 8% of high school seniors can identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War, more than a third thought the Emancipation Proclamation (rather than the 13th Amendment) ended slavery, and nearly 60% of high school teachers find their history textbooks inadequate. Education focuses on "positive" stories like those of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. They do not necessarily tell the story of the 12.5 million people who were kidnapped from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade and sent to the Americas. Schools are not teaching students what they need to know about the real Black experience in this country and that it has a negative impact on how these students view the world. 

2019 was the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The New York Times started an initiative called the 1619 Project to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans." The website features essays to highlight each topic. 

As college students and as adults, we have the responsibility to educate ourselves about the real history of this country. It is so important to become more educated because we are living in the age of knowledge. Everything is at our fingertips, and we need to take responsibility and educate ourselves so we can change the world for the better. The more we know, the more we can help the people around us. 

Part of learning is taking advantage of what the University of New Hampshire has to offer. UNH has so many classes being offered this fall - check out the list. I took English 549 with Dr. Wilburn, and this class was really educational and made me view the country differently. We learned about white privilege, the Middle Passage, and read work written by Black artists. 

Here are some ways you can educate yourself:

  • Google! Googling things is a great way to learn something on the fly. Just be sure that the information you are reading is from a reliable and credible source! Try the Black Lives Matter website, PBS, and WMUR
  • Reading! Here is a list of books you can read; I'm currently reading White Fragility
  • Movies, documentaries, and television shows! Netflix added a Black Lives Matter genre
  • Social media! Instagram accounts are super easy to read, understand, and share with friends and family.
    • @soyouwanttotalkabout - Breaks down politics and social issues and makes it easy to read.
    • @theconsciouskid - Posts educational information through a critical race lens.
    • @blackatunh - A space for BIPOC UNH students, alumni, and faculty to share their stories.

Scrolling through the @blackatunh posts makes me realize that racism is very prevalent on UNH's campus, and that we can all do something to change the climate on campus. Educating ourselves is one of the first steps to fighting racism and oppression. 

Stay tuned for next week's blog about protesting. 

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