Black Voices: America loves erasure of history, it’s time for the truth

America loves erasure. It’s just a fact of life. Too often we find new stories, new atrocities committed on American soil for the sake of superiority.

You can see the desperation to cover the truth in events like the HB 1134 bill. The bill, had it not died in the Indiana Senate, would have allowed parents to decide and control whether their children learned about topics like race, sex and religion.

The argument for the bill was to protect the children as they weren’t ready to learn about these issues, which parents said would bring transparency to the classroom.

What are those who want to hide the truth afraid we will be taught? We’ve been covering the truth up in classrooms long before this bill came into existence”

Christopher Columbus has been taught to children as an explorer who discovered America when he was a rapist and murderer who committed one of the largest genocides on American soil. Columbus never even set foot in what is now the United States- he landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas and Hispaniola. US colonists killed an estimated 50 million people, though some estimate the death toll was closer to 100 million. European settlers killed so many Indigenous Americans that the planet cooled down and carbon levels dropped.

We’re still finding the remains of residential schools where the Canadian and US governments forced Indigenous kids to move to boarding schools to remove them from the educational, cultural and spiritual influences of their families and communities. Oftentimes these kids were murdered and buried in unmarked graves.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a white southern women’s patriotic organization severely altered history textbooks in the south and disguised the truth about slavery. The group sponsored Confederate Statues under the guise of “preserving history.” Yet these monuments were not put up until after the Reconstruction Era as an attempt to reshape Civil War history.

The UDC rejected school textbooks that admitted slavery was the central cause of the war, praised the Klu Klux Klan and defended slave owners. Sound familiar? Notice when racist people argue that supporting the Confederacy isn’t racist they say the war wasn’t about slavery but rather about state’s rights.

America ignores and attempts to bury the issues we face, even today. No one has acknowledged the fact that immigration agents were riding on horseback and whipping Haitian refugees. Or how at the border it’s been reported that Cuban migrants were gassed for allegedly not complying with verbal directives.

There was a store on Kirkwood Avenue in 1968 called Black Market where Clarence Turner and other faculty sold books, records, artwork and other pro-Black goods. Turner was an IU graduate student who owned the store. It was supposed to be a social place for the Black students on campus since they weren’t welcome at IU. They were outsiders at IU because it is a predominantly white institution and there was still bias and discrimination on campus. There was a huge lack of representation in faculty and administration as well as discrimination in the Greek fraternity system. It was so racially tense there was a Little 500 sit-in regarding these issues in 1968.

On Dec. 26, 1968, the Black Market was firebombed and the store was destroyed. The marker you see on campus was put there in 2020.

They also changed the street name from Jordan Avenue, named after known eugenicist David Starr Jordan, to Eagleson Avenue, named in honor of the first Black woman to graduate from IU.

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate not having things named after racists, but I am concerned with intent and timing. IU put up all these plaques around campus in 2020, but Black people only make up 5.2% of the IU population. Black students have been screaming about these racist events for years. Why has IU just started to listen?

The annoying thing is pretending these revelations like eugenics having a home on campus is a surprise. IU knew about Jordan’s ideologies, who do you think approved David Starr Jordan’s research plans and funding?

I’ve grown tired of the fake surprise and the performative activism. We find out these hidden but known scars while America knocks the chair out from under us as they tie the noose. But isn’t that the way finding out the truth goes?

America loves erasure, I just wish I was no longer surprised.

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