Growing up my classmates often lamented about history. They said ” What is the point of learning the past.”
I think this is part of a bigger problem in education, schools rarely give students the full picture in which the piece they are currently learning sits, but I digress.
History comprehension is the key to understanding the now.
Take for instance the protests currently occurring world wide to oppose the murder of people of color by the United States’ police forces.
These events are by and large a product of nearly (if not more than) 500 years of racial discrimination, eugenic idealization and voter disenfranchisement. (voter disenfranchisement is part and parcel of US history but again, I digress)
I am not the right person to speak on this, I don’t claim to be. I am not a scholar of African American relations, but a simple google search, a skimming of Wikipedia, a trip to the library, they illuminate a dark and sinister web of self interested people all attempting to enforce policies that benefited them at the expense of communities of color.
What we are seeing now in our streets is the anger of a people systematically held underwater to drown, and that somehow survived, every so often being able to thrust their heads up and take a breath.
To this injustice, Anger seems like a perfectly justifiable response. History teaches us this.
History also teaches us, how empires fall, how they rise, how revolutions begin and are taken over. History teaches us empathy and understanding. History teaches us why today is today, and how we can change the future.
I lament those who forsake history, not because they are doomed to repeat it, that does happen, but because in doing so they give up agency. The past is teaching us why today is happening, and a better informed person is a more powerful person.
If you are lost and confused about why the people in the streets are angry. I’d advise you to go read some history.
Read about Emmett Till, read about Billie Holiday, and read about George Stinney, and if you aren’t angry, well then you might need to read some more.
The unfortunate truth is you won’t lack for content.