Value the Past by Aliya Garfield

It is said that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Notice the quote says doomed rather than fortunate. It is not a good thing to have to cycle repeatedly through the past but that is exactly the case. The problem is we don’t know our history. ‘Blacks’ and other so called ‘minority groups’ are held down by a system of oppression whether you want to believe it or not. This system has painted a rosy picture of “Americans” and a negative and often shameful history of blacks and others. The way the system works is the power group feels that they deserve the privilege of being in the power group for no reason other than that they are a part of the power group. This message is received from parents and is passed down the generations and is manifested in the patriarchy, white privilege and nepotism. The same thing is happening on the flip side with the oppressed group. Oppressed people internalize negative myths about themselves and pass that negative thinking and the negative effects of this thinking to their children. This is manifested in lost identity, self-hate and group hate, low self-worth, as well as assimilation to power group. All these things each come with their own sets of issues that are super effective at perpetuating the system. The only way to stop the confusion is to bust the myths and educate ourselves and each other. Instead of continually perpetuating the confusion learning our past and leaving our piece is of grave importance. Everyone has opinions and ideas about what we need to do in order to make changes or up our status in The United States as the black community. Well I say the first thing to do is learn yourself both individually and as a whole community. Studying the past helps you see patterns in the present guiding you on how to deal and maneuver. People who pay attention to history are not surprised by black men being shot down in the street and their white murderers walking away with no sweat off their brow. This has been happening and will continue to happen if everyone wants to act stunned every time they hear about it on the news. The shock is being stirred up by the media when in reality this has been the norm in America since before the first Fourth of July. Slave laws are on the books in the colonies as early as the 1640. More than 100 years before 1776 slavery was an institution in what would become the United States of America. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Beautiful words written by Thomas Jefferson that he did not apply to the people of his time that looked like me or my family members. Any country that can claim all men to be equal in the first line of their Declaration of Independence and at the same time sanction the institution of racial slavery is deceitful in its inception. This country never meant to include us as anything other than a silent labors force so don’t make the mistake of thinking the value of black life should have gone up in American standards just because of the civil rights era. It is time to recognize what is going on here so we don’t have to repeat it.  Don’t be a passive critic of life. Document your stories, the stories of your elders and help your children start their chapters. Teach them to leave their piece of history. This is important because this is how the future children will know what we did and how we lived and dealt with our problems and what were our successes. By creating primary sources that document our time our progeny won’t face the issues of only learning half a revised history. They also won’t have to deal with being forced into a box. When you don’t know yourself you believe the labels forced on you. All of this can stop the cyclical pattern of oppression. When all the negative myths are abolished we can work to together as a community without having to grapple with all the effects of oppression. This is the Black history month challenge, learn your history that the revisionists don’t want you to know. For the month of February I pledge to give up all the hours I would have spent watching reality tv to studying, writing and sharing with others. By putting a higher value on history I am committing to change. How will you commit to change?

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