Tag Archives: Underground Railroad

True History Is Not Pretty

There have been a lot of fuss about teaching history in school. In particular, what is taught about history. I agree with only one thing in history and that is some, if told correctly and factually, will be too sensitive for very young children. However, the rest of us, child and adult, does not really know the bare bones of factual history.

               History have been distorted for hundreds of years and, today, it is still happening. For instance, I am presently halfway into reading “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, who won a Pulitzer Prize. It is a fictional novel because the people names are fictional, but the story is one of many like it. It is a story that is not in history books and probably will never be.

               Remember, I have only read about a half of the book, so far, and many parts I remember being told to me when I was a child, even the sensitive parts. As kids, we had to know what was out there against us. Like it has been for thousands of years, what took place years ago is passed on orally. This is still done in many parts of the world today, however, many young people do not want to hear it or call it a bunch of bullxxxx. It is said that those that do not study history is doomed to repeat the same mistakes (another say is ‘doomed to failure’).

               In the start of the book, that I mentioned, it starts by telling what the slaves on this plantation were doing and how they were treated, in gruesome detail. This is factual and young children cannot deal with the descriptions without having nightmares or worst. Regardless of what have previously been told, being a slave was a nightmare. Besides the labor, all sorts of atrocities were meted upon the slaves. This certainly would not be in a history book. Much of the atrocities are too egregious for young people to hear. At the time of these things happening, the young children had to be taught what to do, say, and act to keep them as safe as possible. Most of the time it did not make a difference. It happened anyway.

               Situations of this sort not only happened to American slaves but some of it happened to American Indians and others around the world, especially if they were dark skinned. History books do not properly portray Egypt as it should because most of what is written distort the truth and the truth is seldom pretty. Even the truth about Ireland is distorted, including the surrounding areas.

               A few days ago, I saw a picture of a Woolworth store in Facebook and the question was does anyone remember the store. If you remembered the store, it showed how old you were. I remember it for a different reason. I grew up during segregation and I participated in sit-ins and peace marches. Only part of the truth is mentioned in the history books. Most of the full stories are never told. Only the glorious portions are ever told and just a tiny portion of the bad.

               Many people say that was then and this is now. I say, just a few years ago a man in Texas was dragged behind a car with a rope tied around him until there was only a very small piece of him left. That is now, history is now, true history should be taught but with caution to the child’s age. Again, history is not pretty but we are attempting to teach something that is beautiful.