I refuse to have a whitewashed education


As is not unusual, during the start of my sixth hour, I caught up with my fellow journalists and friends on The Central Trend about what’s new in their ephemeral last few weeks of school. One of them brought up that she was watching Schindler’s List in her World History class. When I responded that I loved that movie, she countered back with feeling “over” all of the Holocaust subject material that is flung at students.

My initial reaction was one of surprise. But, through interjections by other members of the conversation, we all came to a similar realization: year after year, we constantly–in some way, shape, or form–are instructed on the events of the Holocaust genocide. It isn’t hard to follow my thought process to see how I arrived at my next question. Why?

Now, I want to prelude this by saying that I wholeheartedly believe that the Holocaust was a gut-wrenching and horrific tragedy that deserves to be a subject of education. I merely am referring to it because I find it odd that it’s the genocide that we are disproportionately educated on while other equally as disturbing events are ignored.

Take the original inhabitants of this country, for example. A genocide took place right here in the USA. Millions and millions of overwhelmingly peaceful Native Americans were slaughtered, raped, and pushed off of their land in the name of “civilization.”

Sure, some students are instructed on the Trail of Tears, but how many more of us are taught about Squanto and Thanksgiving first? While some of the truth is in the curriculum, the sickening statistics and terrible truths are left out because, in this story, we’re the bad guys.

It’s uncomfortable, but that’s the point—it should be. So, the gross reality is often left unsaid until far too late in students’ careers, or sometimes it is omitted altogether.

Another example of a “forgotten” genocide that has only just been revealed to me are the events that took place in Rwanda in 1994. In a fight between two groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, around 800,000 people were killed in the span of just 100 days.

This staggering loss of life teaches us just as important of a lesson as the events in Nazi Germany, yet I didn’t know of its existence until I was 17, and others who weren’t in class with me probably don’t know about it at all.

While the reason for why the Rwandan genocide and many others are forgotten in favor of the repetitive retelling of the Holocaust may seem incomprehensible and arbitrary to some, I think I may have figured it out.

In the Holocaust, the primary victims were white people. The events in Rwanda and the injustices committed against Indigenous Americans were injustices committed against people of color. That’s not a coincidence.

Our government was founded and created by white men and, consequently, so was our education system. Over a couple of hundreds of years, this has led to the systematic oppression of people of color. Even if it is no longer as intentional, we still sympathize more to white people than any other group.

Yes, I think we all should learn about the injustices of the Holocaust, but there are other equally as important events that need to be spoken about as well. If we don’t receive the full extent of the education we are deserving of, we risk the danger of repeating history’s mistakes, as well as not honoring the countless number of lives that have been lost and impacted by these tragedies.

I will not let my education and the future generations’ be whitewashed by either discomfort or an outdated system. We must seek out and demand the truth in order to move forward.