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The teaching of our history: critical race theory and The 1619 Project


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I would be inclined to treat the 1619 project like I would something like intelligent design vs. evolution; not as the primary curriculum, but as a footnote providing alternative viewpoints or theories.  Introduce the alternative, have some discussions on the pros/cons, then move back to the mainstream curriculum.  I think the exchange of different ideas is usually a good thing which expands the mind.

This presumes one could introduce negative discussions regarding 1619 without being canceled or otherwise getting into trouble in our current climate, of which I am not convinced, but theoretically I think this is how it should be handled.

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1 hour ago, stlrams said:

I think you’re correct when talking about older curriculums.  There’s been a lot of focus lately.  The history channel piece was good imo. 

I missed the history channel piece, hope to catch a rerun sometime soon

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12 hours ago, JerryG said:

I would be inclined to treat the 1619 project like I would something like intelligent design vs. evolution; not as the primary curriculum, but as a footnote providing alternative viewpoints or theories.  Introduce the alternative, have some discussions on the pros/cons, then move back to the mainstream curriculum.  I think the exchange of different ideas is usually a good thing which expands the mind.

This presumes one could introduce negative discussions regarding 1619 without being canceled or otherwise getting into trouble in our current climate, of which I am not convinced, but theoretically I think this is how it should be handled.

There's something that's off about this comparison but I can't really pinpoint it.  I think my problem with it is that it's an "alternative" rather more of an "addition" maybe?  For example, if we are talking about evolution vs intelligent design you can have a day where you teach the biology as we know it, then also teach others believe the whole sequence of events was triggered by some higher being.  That's an alternate viewpoint.  That's not the same as teaching about say the differences between urban areas and suburban areas as we know them today then adding on to that how they came to be and policies/laws that helped to get them there.  That's providing a more complete picture.  Hope that makes sense.

I guess I am fortunate.  We learned about events like Tulsa and Juneteenth and policies like redlining etc.  I was taken back by the amount of people who weren't taught these things and new nothing about them.  Those lessons stuck with me and are a big part of why I do the work I do in resource centers trying to help people best I can get.  

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2 hours ago, The Commish said:

There's something that's off about this comparison but I can't really pinpoint it.  I think my problem with it is that it's an "alternative" rather more of an "addition" maybe?  For example, if we are talking about evolution vs intelligent design you can have a day where you teach the biology as we know it, then also teach others believe the whole sequence of events was triggered by some higher being.  That's an alternate viewpoint.  That's not the same as teaching about say the differences between urban areas and suburban areas as we know them today then adding on to that how they came to be and policies/laws that helped to get them there.  That's providing a more complete picture.  Hope that makes sense.

I guess I am fortunate.  We learned about events like Tulsa and Juneteenth and policies like redlining etc.  I was taken back by the amount of people who weren't taught these things and new nothing about them.  Those lessons stuck with me and are a big part of why I do the work I do in resource centers trying to help people best I can get.  

I believe there is a federal court decision that bars teaching ID because it's a religious belief not science.

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6 hours ago, The Commish said:

There's something that's off about this comparison but I can't really pinpoint it.  I think my problem with it is that it's an "alternative" rather more of an "addition" maybe?  For example, if we are talking about evolution vs intelligent design you can have a day where you teach the biology as we know it, then also teach others believe the whole sequence of events was triggered by some higher being.  That's an alternate viewpoint.  That's not the same as teaching about say the differences between urban areas and suburban areas as we know them today then adding on to that how they came to be and policies/laws that helped to get them there.  That's providing a more complete picture.  Hope that makes sense.

I guess I am fortunate.  We learned about events like Tulsa and Juneteenth and policies like redlining etc.  I was taken back by the amount of people who weren't taught these things and new nothing about them.  Those lessons stuck with me and are a big part of why I do the work I do in resource centers trying to help people best I can get.  

I see your point, but I was thinking more of the 1619 project in total as a philosophy of an alternative genesis of our country.  I certainly agree that significant individual historical events like Tulsa etc. should be taught in history classes independent of 1619.

 

 

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22 minutes ago, JerryG said:

I see your point, but I was thinking more of the 1619 project in total as a philosophy of an alternative genesis of our country.  I certainly agree that significant individual historical events like Tulsa etc. should be taught in history classes independent of 1619.

 

 

I guess I don't know as much about 1619 project as I thought.  I thought it was basically talking about the slave trade and how this country was built on it.  I didn't think it was considered a philosophy, maybe "our history from a different perspective"?  Is that what you mean?  I think we need to teach a multitude of perspectives when it comes to the beginning of this country.  A wonderful documentary would story of our country through the eyes of 3-4 different groups of people all wound into one.

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49 minutes ago, The Commish said:

I guess I don't know as much about 1619 project as I thought.  I thought it was basically talking about the slave trade and how this country was built on it.  I didn't think it was considered a philosophy, maybe "our history from a different perspective"?  Is that what you mean?  I think we need to teach a multitude of perspectives when it comes to the beginning of this country.  A wonderful documentary would story of our country through the eyes of 3-4 different groups of people all wound into one.

From Wiki:

Quote

The 1619 Project is a long-form journalism project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative".[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_1619_Project

It is more than just a collection of events, it is a complete narrative.

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1 hour ago, JerryG said:
2 hours ago, The Commish said:

I guess I don't know as much about 1619 project as I thought.  I thought it was basically talking about the slave trade and how this country was built on it.  I didn't think it was considered a philosophy, maybe "our history from a different perspective"?  Is that what you mean?  I think we need to teach a multitude of perspectives when it comes to the beginning of this country.  A wonderful documentary would story of our country through the eyes of 3-4 different groups of people all wound into one.

From Wiki:

Quote

The 1619 Project is a long-form journalism project developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative".[1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_1619_Project

It is more than just a collection of events, it is a complete narrative.

Yes...this is more in line with what I thought it was.  We have a US Narrative and it's typically taught focused on Columbus finding the new world, breaking bread with the Indians, breaking away from England etc etc......This project looks at that narrative but putting the perspective of black people front and center in that narrative.  I don't have a problem with that.  I wouldn't have a problem with them having a class on the perspective from Indians either.  I think all would be valuable.  Right now, our narrative and what's taught in school is pretty one sided.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Commish said:

Yes...this is more in line with what I thought it was.  We have a US Narrative and it's typically taught focused on Columbus finding the new world, breaking bread with the Indians, breaking away from England etc etc......This project looks at that narrative but putting the perspective of black people front and center in that narrative.  I don't have a problem with that.  I wouldn't have a problem with them having a class on the perspective from Indians either.  I think all would be valuable.  Right now, our narrative and what's taught in school is pretty one sided.  

 

Why do we need to put black people front and center?  Isn't that just repeating the "one sidedness" you just talked about?  Is the answer to fighting racism even MORE racism?

Edited by BladeRunner
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31 minutes ago, BladeRunner said:

 

Why do we need to put black people front and center?  Isn't that just repeating the "one sidedness" you just talked about?  Is the answer to fighting racism even MORE racism?

Ever hear the saying "if everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency"?

Same concept here. Put everyone front and center and no one is front and center. Equal opportunity to show perspectives. I have other answers if this one doesnt suffice. 

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1 hour ago, The Commish said:

Ever hear the saying "if everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency"?

Same concept here. Put everyone front and center and no one is front and center. Equal opportunity to show perspectives. I have other answers if this one doesnt suffice. 

I'll take some other answers if you got them. I'd like to see them all

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12 hours ago, The Commish said:

I guess I don't know as much about 1619 project as I thought.  I thought it was basically talking about the slave trade and how this country was built on it.  I didn't think it was considered a philosophy, maybe "our history from a different perspective"?  Is that what you mean?  I think we need to teach a multitude of perspectives when it comes to the beginning of this country.  A wonderful documentary would story of our country through the eyes of 3-4 different groups of people all wound into one.

That would be an interesting was of presenting it.

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9 hours ago, BladeRunner said:

 

Why do we need to put black people front and center?  Isn't that just repeating the "one sidedness" you just talked about?  Is the answer to fighting racism even MORE racism?

he literally said in the post you quoted he would be for the NA perspective, and he thinks it all would be valuable.   he wasn't advocating for only teaching from the slave trade perspective. 

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When I see crap like this I lose hope for America’s future.  We’ve become so Balkanized that we can’t even agree on how to teach our history.  That is a very bad sign and doesn’t portend well for our future.

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12 hours ago, BladeRunner said:

I'll take some other answers if you got them. I'd like to see them all

Others would include:

1.  "For the same reason white people have been front and center in this story"
2.  "We don't NEED to put them front and center, but we SHOULD put them front and center if only for a bit to gain their perspective"
3.  "The more that we understand from the various perspectives of a set of events the better we understand the set of events".

I realize these might not sound all that different, but the theory is (even with my answers) to present the answers in slightly different ways and hopefully one of those presentations gives people pause to thinks about it.  Like now, based on your comment above it seems like you're looking at the individual trees and not the forest.  I say that because your comments lend to the belief you see this kind of stuff as pushing white people off the stage and out of the spotlight in favor of another act, in this case black people.  An alternate way to look at this is "the white people" portion of the show is over and now we're going to hear from the others.  This would be a take from higher up beginning to focus on the forest instead of individual trees.

And to be clear, in my view, the way we've taught our history in the past isn't really racist or bad so the argument you make above doesn't really apply to the way I see things.  However, I DO believe it is really incomplete and that's relatively easy to fix.  

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, The Commish said:

Others would include:

1.  "For the same reason white people have been front and center in this story"
2.  "We don't NEED to put them front and center, but we SHOULD put them front and center if only for a bit to gain their perspective"
3.  "The more that we understand from the various perspectives of a set of events the better we understand the set of events".

I realize these might not sound all that different, but the theory is (even with my answers) to present the answers in slightly different ways and hopefully one of those presentations gives people pause to thinks about it.  Like now, based on your comment above it seems like you're looking at the individual trees and not the forest.  I say that because your comments lend to the belief you see this kind of stuff as pushing white people off the stage and out of the spotlight in favor of another act, in this case black people.  An alternate way to look at this is "the white people" portion of the show is over and now we're going to hear from the others.  This would be a take from higher up beginning to focus on the forest instead of individual trees.

And to be clear, in my view, the way we've taught our history in the past isn't really racist or bad so the argument you make above doesn't really apply to the way I see things.  However, I DO believe it is really incomplete and that's relatively easy to fix.  

Thank you! :thumbup:

How do you think this type of teaching will make things "more complete"?  US history is not just slavery but it seems like these people want to paint the US as ONLY racist.  The US has done A LOT of good things for the entire world, no?  I don't understand the need for wanting to tear it all down with what I believe will be revisionist history.

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Just now, KarmaPolice said:

I just don't get the fear that teaching another perspective along with traditional teaching of history = tearing it down with revisionist history.   

 

C'mon, man.  At least be a stand-up guy and quote my post.

Also, we're seeing revisionist history happening right before our eyes.  You don't think this opens the door to a flood of it?  I'm not saying we SHOULDN'T teach the history of slavery in the US, but history taught by Marxists and Communists - and make no mistake: that is what CRT is based on - usually means revisionist history.

We shouldn't be opening the door for those people at all.

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8 minutes ago, BladeRunner said:

Thank you! :thumbup:

How do you think this type of teaching will make things "more complete"?  US history is not just slavery but it seems like these people want to paint the US as ONLY racist.  The US has done A LOT of good things for the entire world, no?  I don't understand the need for wanting to tear it all down with what I believe will be revisionist history.

The problem is...I don't get this feeling at all.  And this seems to carry over in to so many topics recently.  Any comment on race or racism gets met with defensiveness.  "We aren't all racist"  even when people have not come close to calling the person or even a large group racist.  Even when it is specifically about a group that did something.

But yes...as a country, we still do have a race problem.  Yes...we have a deep history of racism in this country.  No, that does not mean other countries don't as well...but when talk about the US and our history....lets talk about us.

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14 minutes ago, BladeRunner said:

Thank you! :thumbup:

How do you think this type of teaching will make things "more complete"?  US history is not just slavery but it seems like these people want to paint the US as ONLY racist.  The US has done A LOT of good things for the entire world, no?  I don't understand the need for wanting to tear it all down with what I believe will be revisionist history.

A couple of thoughts:

1.  What do you consider "revisionist history"?  When I hear that term, I tend to think of someone replacing reality with fantasy (i.e. what they want history to be).  If anything, I would argue that the history that most of us were taught in school was itself "revisionist history" and not a true reflection of the actual history.  A lot of that is down to people/events we chose to emphasize, and those we chose to ignore in history books.  By, and large, we got a very Euro-centric view of history - which, of course, ignored a lot of other perspectives.

 

2. I am not aware of any efforts to stop teaching anything good that the US has done - but rather including some of the bad that the US has done, and more specifically, putting more nuance into history to show that we can't simply hold up the good, and ignore the bad that went along with it.  

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, BladeRunner said:

Thank you! :thumbup:

How do you think this type of teaching will make things "more complete"?  US history is not just slavery but it seems like these people want to paint the US as ONLY racist.  The US has done A LOT of good things for the entire world, no?  I don't understand the need for wanting to tear it all down with what I believe will be revisionist history.

In the same way a reporter writing a story or a person writing a book or a director filming a documentary interviews many people who knew about the subject.  This is but another perspective to be taught as part of the whole.  We'd have to be a pretty weak country to allow the introduction of another perspective to "tear it all down".  In my opinion, you are short changing America.  It's not like these things are a secret.  They are known.  They aren't known by enough people and they aren't taught in a formal setting.  Putting them in a formal setting will allow for the discussion to be had in the open minimizing the concern for "revisionist history".  It's out there for the whole country to see and discuss.  If it's not out in the open, that introduces opportunity for people to make up narratives that aren't true and spread them as if they are dividing us further by the time the idea hits the mainstream.  

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12 minutes ago, sho nuff said:

The problem is...I don't get this feeling at all.  And this seems to carry over in to so many topics recently.  Any comment on race or racism gets met with defensiveness.  "We aren't all racist"  even when people have not come close to calling the person or even a large group racist.  Even when it is specifically about a group that did something.

But yes...as a country, we still do have a race problem.  Yes...we have a deep history of racism in this country.  No, that does not mean other countries don't as well...but when talk about the US and our history....lets talk about us.

Correct, and I think it was time that brought up a good post about what his kids were learning about in history.  It was basically tone of slavery - Civil War - Civil Rights Act - all better now.    My understanding with the projects and ideas is that people want a more nuanced conversation.  What were the ramifications even after the 60s, for example?  What were the perspectives of all people during these times in history? 

But, far too often before people can even sit down and talk like this it's met with "Don't tell me to feel guilty!!".  

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6 minutes ago, The Commish said:

In the same way a reporter writing a story or a person writing a book or a director filming a documentary interviews many people who knew about the subject.  This is but another perspective to be taught as part of the whole.  We'd have to be a pretty weak country to allow the introduction of another perspective to "tear it all down".  In my opinion, you are short changing America.  It's not like these things are a secret.  They are known.  They aren't known by enough people and they aren't taught in a formal setting.  Putting them in a formal setting will allow for the discussion to be had in the open minimizing the concern for "revisionist history".  It's out there for the whole country to see and discuss.  If it's not out in the open, that introduces opportunity for people to make up narratives that aren't true and spread them as if they are dividing us further by the time the idea hits the mainstream.  

This is why I didn't like the above example of treating it like intelligent design.   IMO it's nothing like that.  These events happened, there were different ramifications for different communities, and there are different perspectives and opinions of those events.  That is all history, factual, and should be fair game for any good history class.   It also, IMO, makes it a lot more interesting.  

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1 hour ago, KarmaPolice said:

I just don't get the fear that teaching another perspective along with traditional teaching of history = tearing it down with revisionist history.   

 

History should not be anyone’s perspective.  

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8 minutes ago, stlrams said:
1 hour ago, KarmaPolice said:

I just don't get the fear that teaching another perspective along with traditional teaching of history = tearing it down with revisionist history.  

History should not be anyone’s perspective.  

But it is. Just look at the confederate statues. Half the country says "they are tearing down history". The other half is saying "learn the history of why the statue was put up there in the first place". 

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1 hour ago, KarmaPolice said:

This is why I didn't like the above example of treating it like intelligent design.   IMO it's nothing like that.  These events happened, there were different ramifications for different communities, and there are different perspectives and opinions of those events.  That is all history, factual, and should be fair game for any good history class.   It also, IMO, makes it a lot more interesting.  

Seeing it written in words like this helps me validate my issue with it.  It's not an alternative like ID is...it's a different perspective of the same events.  

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15 minutes ago, stlrams said:

History should not be anyone’s perspective.  

:goodposting: 

This is pretty much why I'm in favor of teaching the same events from various viewpoints.  Right now, history is taught from one perspective.

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15 minutes ago, stlrams said:

History should not be anyone’s perspective.  

I don't think it's really possible to teach "perspective free" history.  Obviously you can teach facts in a vacuum.  For example, it is an empirical fact that the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  But it's impossible to explain why that made sense at the time without temporarily adopting the perspective of Harry Truman, and it's impossible to explain why it's a controversial decision without looking at other perspectives.  

The problem with the 1619 project isn't that it has a perspective -- it's that it's perspective is a little too twisted by ideology to be worthy of consideration.  (At least parts of it.  I can't speak to the whole thing.) 

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3 minutes ago, The Commish said:

:goodposting: 

This is pretty much why I'm in favor of teaching the same events from various viewpoints.  Right now, history is taught from one perspective.

I’m in favor of teaching history and letting the student absorb the information and possibly form their own opinions... how many viewpoints are we teaching?

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4 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

The problem with the 1619 project isn't that it has a perspective -- it's that it's perspective is a little too twisted by ideology to be worthy of consideration.  (At least parts of it.  I can't speak to the whole thing.) 

Can you unpack this?  I am not sure I understand this perspective- and I am not as well versed on the entire 1619 project as I would like to be. 

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1 minute ago, stlrams said:

I’m in favor of teaching history and letting the student absorb the information and possibly form their own opinions... how many viewpoints are we teaching?

As many as we can IMO.  Personally, in terms of the founding of this country, I think the perspectives of England, Indians (Native Americans), Settlers and Slaves are the four main pillars.  I could argue that we separate Settlers into North/South etc but that's a quibble.

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4 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

I don't think it's really possible to teach "perspective free" history.  Obviously you can teach facts in a vacuum.  For example, it is an empirical fact that the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  But it's impossible to explain why that made sense at the time without temporarily adopting the perspective of Harry Truman, and it's impossible to explain why it's a controversial decision without looking at other perspectives.  

The problem with the 1619 project isn't that it has a perspective -- it's that it's perspective is a little too twisted by ideology to be worthy of consideration.  (At least parts of it.  I can't speak to the whole thing.) 

I agree with 1619 being a revisionist history.  But we could offer insight into the options Truman had.

a) drop bomb ending war quickly saving untold number of American soldiers but killing untold number of Japanese 

b) not drop bomb that lengthens the war leading to invasion of mainland japan untold number of casualties both military and civilian.  

Plus there was a lot of unknowns with the bombs destruction,

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3 minutes ago, stlrams said:

I’m in favor of teaching history and letting the student absorb the information and possibly form their own opinions... how many viewpoints are we teaching?

The challenge with teaching history is understanding the context from which it is taught. 
 

We teach/learn a very euro/Anglo centric version of history.  So when we create textbooks, we tend to highlight those aspects of history that favor those views.   (The victors get to write the history books). 
 

That tends to then become the “accepted” version of history and anything that challenges that view becomes “revisionist” - because those views, in fact, revise the accepted version. 
 

 

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13 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

Can you unpack this?  I am not sure I understand this perspective- and I am not as well versed on the entire 1619 project as I would like to be. 

There's an essay in there about how capitalism is rooted in slavery.  It's very bad.

This is one of those times where a collection of essays happens to include an essay in an area where I have enough training to recognize a cover-your-eyes awful take.  It makes me super-skeptical of the rest of the collection, and it makes me lean strongly toward the practicing historians who take issue with other stuff in other essays where I have no special background.

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We just need good teachers,

History is one of my favorite subjects, and you know what I hear about it when I talk to my daughters and their friends? They hate it, They’re bored by it. They dutifully memorize whatever they need to learn to do well on the test, and then they forget it. They don’t absorb a thing. 
If this is the case for most high school students (and sadly I suspect it is) then it doesn’t matter whether they teach the traditional narrative, or 1619, or whatever. 

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5 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

There's an essay in there about how capitalism is rooted in slavery.  It's very bad.

This is one of those times where a collection of essays happens to include an essay in an area where I have enough training to recognize a cover-your-eyes awful take.  It makes me super-skeptical of the rest of the collection, and it makes me lean strongly toward the practicing historians who take issue with other stuff in other essays where I have no special background.

Fair enough- I don’t think capitalism is rooted in slavery, but certainly the bulk of the southern agricultural economy was built on the backs of slave labor. 
 

I wonder how, or if, the Southern states could have been sustainable otherwise. 
 

I don’t follow a lot of historians, but have seen a few chime in with the UNC tenure issue, and all have been supportive of the factual underpinning of the 1619 project. 

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7 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

Fair enough- I don’t think capitalism is rooted in slavery, but certainly the bulk of the southern agricultural economy was built on the backs of slave labor. 
 

I wonder how, or if, the Southern states could have been sustainable otherwise. 
 

I don’t follow a lot of historians, but have seen a few chime in with the UNC tenure issue, and all have been supportive of the factual underpinning of the 1619 project. 

Yeah and just to be clear, I think slavery should absolutely be one of the two or three main storylines taught in any decent US history course.  I have no objection there, and I would object to downplaying it.

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2 hours ago, Sinn Fein said:

A couple of thoughts:

1.  What do you consider "revisionist history"?  When I hear that term, I tend to think of someone replacing reality with fantasy (i.e. what they want history to be).  If anything, I would argue that the history that most of us were taught in school was itself "revisionist history" and not a true reflection of the actual history.  A lot of that is down to people/events we chose to emphasize, and those we chose to ignore in history books.  By, and large, we got a very Euro-centric view of history - which, of course, ignored a lot of other perspectives.

 

2. I am not aware of any efforts to stop teaching anything good that the US has done - but rather including some of the bad that the US has done, and more specifically, putting more nuance into history to show that we can't simply hold up the good, and ignore the bad that went along with it.  

Considering most of the country 20 years ago was Euro-centric, that would make sense.  Now that the population is shifting, it makes sense that history does somewhat.  

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41 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

The challenge with teaching history is understanding the context from which it is taught. 
 

We teach/learn a very euro/Anglo centric version of history.  So when we create textbooks, we tend to highlight those aspects of history that favor those views.   (The victors get to write the history books). 
 

That tends to then become the “accepted” version of history and anything that challenges that view becomes “revisionist” - because those views, in fact, revise the accepted version. 
 

 

For me, revisionist is changing or rewriting historical facts to fit a different viewpoint.  History is learning about events, people and facts that shaped our country.  I do agree that we should add in different perspectives.  

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Maybe it's because I don't know enough about the 1619 project, but why do we keep labeling their perspective "revisionist"?  Is there something about the project that attempts to change actual facts about the past?  I hesitantly went to the wiki page linked above and I don't see anything of that nature.  It's an attempt to look at our history through a different set of realities other people experienced and describe.  That's not revisionist.  That's just a different perspective.

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46 minutes ago, The Commish said:

Maybe it's because I don't know enough about the 1619 project, but why do we keep labeling their perspective "revisionist"?  Is there something about the project that attempts to change actual facts about the past?  I hesitantly went to the wiki page linked above and I don't see anything of that nature.  It's an attempt to look at our history through a different set of realities other people experienced and describe.  That's not revisionist.  That's just a different perspective.

Right, but it's a perspective that is difficult to reconcile with a lot of conservative ideology.  They don't want that perspective to get attention.  

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55 minutes ago, The Commish said:

Maybe it's because I don't know enough about the 1619 project, but why do we keep labeling their perspective "revisionist"?  Is there something about the project that attempts to change actual facts about the past?  I hesitantly went to the wiki page linked above and I don't see anything of that nature.  It's an attempt to look at our history through a different set of realities other people experienced and describe.  That's not revisionist.  That's just a different perspective.

Yes.  One of the things that professional historians have objected to is the claim that US revolutionaries were motivated largely by a desire to maintain slavery.  That would qualify as "revisionism."  Sometimes revisionist takes turn out to be more correct than the narratives that they replaced, but my understanding is that academic experts generally disagree with this one pretty strongly.

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17 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Yes.  One of the things that professional historians have objected to is the claim that US revolutionaries were motivated largely by a desire to maintain slavery.  That would qualify as "revisionism."  Sometimes revisionist takes turn out to be more correct than the narratives that they replaced, but my understanding is that academic experts generally disagree with this one pretty strongly.

I am not sure I agree.  Here is the response to the criticism, and it seems grounded in fact, rather than pure conjecture.  Certainly people can disagree - but omitting these facts, leads to a distorted view of history.

 

Quote

 

[spoiler]The passages cited in the letter, regarding the causes of the American Revolution and the attitudes toward black equality of Abraham Lincoln, are good examples of this. Both are found in the lead essay by Hannah-Jones. We can hardly claim to have studied the Revolutionary period as long as some of the signatories, nor do we presume to tell them anything they don’t already know, but I think it would be useful for readers to hear why we believe that Hannah-Jones’s claim that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery” is grounded in the historical record.

The work of various historians, among them David Waldstreicher and Alfred W. and Ruth G. Blumrosen, supports the contention that uneasiness among slaveholders in the colonies about growing antislavery sentiment in Britain and increasing imperial regulation helped motivate the Revolution. One main episode that these and other historians refer to is the landmark 1772 decision of the British high court in Somerset v. Stewart. The case concerned a British customs agent named Charles Stewart who bought an enslaved man named Somerset and took him to England, where he briefly escaped. Stewart captured Somerset and planned to sell him and ship him to Jamaica, only for the chief justice, Lord Mansfield, to declare this unlawful, because chattel slavery was not supported by English common law.

It is true, as Professor Wilentz has noted elsewhere, that the Somerset decision did not legally threaten slavery in the colonies, but the ruling caused a sensation nonetheless. Numerous colonial newspapers covered it and warned of the tyranny it represented. Multiple historians have pointed out that in part because of the Somerset case, slavery joined other issues in helping to gradually drive apart the patriots and their colonial governments. The British often tried to undermine the patriots by mocking their hypocrisy in fighting for liberty while keeping Africans in bondage, and colonial officials repeatedly encouraged enslaved people to seek freedom by fleeing to British lines. For their part, large numbers of the enslaved came to see the struggle as one between freedom and continued subjugation. As Waldstreicher writes, “The black-British alliance decisively pushed planters in these [Southern] states toward independence.”

The culmination of this was the Dunmore Proclamation, issued in late 1775 by the colonial governor of Virginia, which offered freedom to any enslaved person who fled his plantation and joined the British Army. A member of South Carolina’s delegation to the Continental Congress wrote that this act did more to sever the ties between Britain and its colonies “than any other expedient which could possibly have been thought of.” The historian Jill Lepore writes in her recent book, “These Truths: A History of the United States,” “Not the taxes and the tea, not the shots at Lexington and Concord, not the siege of Boston; rather, it was this act, Dunmore’s offer of freedom to slaves, that tipped the scales in favor of American independence.” And yet how many contemporary Americans have ever even heard of it? Enslaved people at the time certainly knew about it. During the Revolution, thousands sought freedom by taking refuge with British forces.

As for the question of Lincoln’s attitudes on black equality, the letter writers imply that Hannah-Jones was unfairly harsh toward our 16th president. Admittedly, in an essay that covered several centuries and ranged from the personal to the historical, she did not set out to explore in full his continually shifting ideas about abolition and the rights of black Americans. But she provides an important historical lesson by simply reminding the public, which tends to view Lincoln as a saint, that for much of his career, he believed that a necessary prerequisite for freedom would be a plan to encourage the four million formerly enslaved people to leave the country. To be sure, at the end of his life, Lincoln’s racial outlook had evolved considerably in the direction of real equality. Yet the story of abolition becomes more complicated, and more instructive, when readers understand that even the Great Emancipator was ambivalent about full black citizenship.

The letter writers also protest that Hannah-Jones, and the project’s authors more broadly, ignore Lincoln’s admiration, which he shared with Frederick Douglass, for the commitment to liberty espoused in the Constitution. This seems to me a more general point of dispute. The writers believe that the Revolution and the Constitution provided the framework for the eventual abolition of slavery and for the equality of black Americans, and that our project insufficiently credits both the founders and 19th-century Republican leaders like Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner and others for their contributions toward achieving these goals.

It may be true that under a less egalitarian system of government, slavery would have continued for longer, but the United States was still one of the last nations in the Americas to abolish the institution — only Cuba and Brazil did so after us. And while our democratic system has certainly led to many progressive advances for the rights of minority groups over the past two centuries, these advances, as Hannah-Jones argues in her essay, have almost always come as a result of political and social struggles in which African-Americans have generally taken the lead, not as a working-out of the immanent logic of the Constitution.

 

 

 

ETA - stupid non-spoiler ...

 

Edited by Sinn Fein
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I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me.

 

This is a Politico op-ed - that I think does a pretty good job in fleshing out the criticisms of the 1619 Project, including the claim that slavery was a major contributing factor to the Revolutionary War, and also recognizing the importance of advancing the conversation so that we can have a better, more complete, understanding of our history.

 

Its a long read - but if this is an area that interests you, I think its worth it.

 

Conclusion:
 

As a result, today there is a growing, multiracial group of historians who try to offer a complete picture of our past. Thanks to their efforts, we now know that slavery existed in all 13 Colonies. Scholars like Annette Gordon-Reed and Woody Holton have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which leaders like Thomas Jefferson committed to new ideas of freedom even as they continued to be deeply committed to slavery. Thanks to Peter Wood, Sylvia Frey and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, to name only a few, we have more detailed knowledge of the ways in which black people fought for freedom before, duringand after the Revolutionary era—and how, as the 1619 Project rightly points out, they challenged the patriots to live up to their own ideals of freedom for all—ideals that only fully began to be realized at the close of the Civil War, and have still not been fulfilled.

As someone who has spent much of my career as a historian working with museums, K-12 teachers and the media to make the history of slavery and race accessible to the general public, I know how important listening to and reading these kinds of histories is. It is easy to correct facts; it is much harder to correct a worldview that consistently ignores and distorts the role of African Americans and race in our history in order to present white people as all powerful and solely in possession to the keys of equality, freedom and democracy. At least that is the corrective history toward which the 1619 Project is moving, if imperfectly.

 

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54 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Yes.  One of the things that professional historians have objected to is the claim that US revolutionaries were motivated largely by a desire to maintain slavery.  That would qualify as "revisionism."  Sometimes revisionist takes turn out to be more correct than the narratives that they replaced, but my understanding is that academic experts generally disagree with this one pretty strongly.

It's my understanding that they present a certain set of "beliefs" and their opinions based on different perspectives.  Beliefs aren't grounded in fact that would be revised.  Beliefs are those positions one holds beyond what the evidence/facts require.  I see the point you're making and it's noted, but I don't see that as revisionist.  I see that is competing ideas in terms of the motives of maintaining slavery (which is the fact).  

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4 hours ago, stlrams said:

History should not be anyone’s perspective.  

But it has been taught from a perspective already...hasn't it?  The perspective of whoever wrote the book used by each school district.  History has always been taught from someone's perspective...and what seems to be getting pointed out now...is that for the most part, it was taught from the perspective of the white man.

 

Sad that this needs to be added...no, Im not saying all white people are bad or racist.  But the fact is, history was taught from that perspective...and wasn't always taught correctly IMO.  Somethings were glossed over and treated as if it was all ok now.

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