Professor Haley posed an interesting question last class:
If you were to present about black female historical figures to a group of students at Clinton High school, what would you tell them?
I was completely stumped. I reflected more on this question after Wednesday’s class because I felt frustrated that I would not have been able to name more than 2 women before reading Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women. Black history has been overlooked by the American curriculum, I would find it overwhelming to select which people and events I would talk about.
Although this question is certainly intriguing, I feel that learning black women’s history in high school is already too late. History taught in American higher education is so entrenched the dominant narrative that students don’t know to question the curriculum they’re being taught. As it stands, I feel like a lot of students don’t realize that women, let alone black women are missing from their history textbooks. Furthermore, I think setting aside a unit for black women reinforces the notion of black history as an afterthought.
I agree with Professor Haley and a lot of members of our class that we really need to be asking ourselves how can we reform the American education to more accurately represent the history of all of its citizens?
Although history is largely written by victors, it is possible to tell stories from multiple perspectives. I envision a curriculum that would do its best tell the stories of events and people that (negatively and positively) impacted this country. Most importantly, students need to be exposed to stories representative of as many ethnicities and races at a young age.
I would be interested to hear your ideas on how we can reform education to better address black women’s history.