President’s Day and the Real History of America

What is the history of the country that I live in? Growing up I believed we were the “Good Guys”. The one’s who came in to save the day. We saved the world from Germany. Twice. We had to be great right? Little did I know about the true history of the United States. The more I learn the more I realize the history of my country is both great and terrible. I am not a historian but I would imagine that is true of most countries. A website called historyisaweapon has helped me get a bit of a clearer view of what has happened. They take excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr., Noam Chomsky, Fidel Castro, Mark Twain, Angela Davis, Sojourner Truth and numerous other historical figures.

The website is the creation of author Howard Zinn. On the site Mr. Zinn writes a note and a disclaimer for the reader

The Note: This great book should really be read by everyone. It is difficult to describe why it so great because it both teaches and inspires. You really just have to read it. We think it is so good that it demands to be as accessible as possible. Once you’ve finished it, we’re sure you’ll agree. In fact, years ago, we would offer people twenty dollars if they read the book and didn’t think it was completely worth their time. Of all the people who took us up on it, no one collected.

The disclaimer: This version is made from OCR. That is a fancy way of saying that we scanned in and coded over six hundred fifty pages. There will be a few small occasional errors: spelling mistakes, odd punctuation, and the like. If you see any, please contact us. We have posted it in spite of these mistakes for two simple reasons. First, the book is worth a mistake or two because it really deserves the widest audience possible. Second, we are sure that once you new people begin reading it, you’ll go out and get a physical copy. You should go and get it (and ones for your friends and family). At this point, A People’s History Of The United States is available in regular form, read aloud on audio, on posters, in a teaching edition, and as just the twentieth century chapters (we have all but the posters). And now here. Please Enjoy!

I am writing about this because all across the country schools have been teaching about the Presidents of the United States and the history of this country from the viewpoint of the victors. The people who have gained and excelled by the atrocities committed in the name of America. My point here is not to solely bash the history of America. It is to make sure that we as educators understand that the history of America is why there are so many problems that exist in our society today.

The word intersectionality is something that is something that helps explain these complex problems with this country. Intersectionality is defined as… “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” We can not look at how our indigenous people are struggling today without looking at gender, class, or racial inequality as well.  You cannot talk about racism without addressing sexism. You cannot address ageism without looking at classism. The problems we face are not separate. They are all intertwined and connected.

Take a look at the website I have listed above and let’s continue our learning journey together. We will continue to push ourselves to be more knowledgeable about the country we live in as well as how we can make a positive change today. As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I am still trying to change the world.

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