Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dismantling Monuments: History as a Living Document | radical eyes for equity

Dismantling Monuments: History as a Living Document | radical eyes for equity:

Dismantling Monuments: History as a Living Document

Washington cherry tree cartoon jpg 1000x1056 Cartoon george washington cherry tree




Disturbance at the Heron House
A stampede at the monument
To liberty and honor under the honor roll
“And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
“Ozymandias,” Percy Bysshe Shelley
Possibly one of the greatest failures of formal K-12 schooling has been not only what students are taught in history and social studies, but how history as a discipline has been misrepresented (paralleled, I think, by a similar message about science) as fixed and objective.
History is never fixed or objective, but always a living document—one written by those who have power, access to the telling.
A powerful and vivid example of this fact is how Howard Zinn has been marginalized as more an activist than a historian because his work was committed to changing the perspective of history from the power elites to the people. Zinn was both heralded and demonized, for example, when his work asked everyone to rethink Christopher Columbus and the concept of “discovering” lands already occupied.
Traditionalists remain trapped in the belief that history has been and can be objective, can avoid being political, and once anyone seeks to better understand a person or the narratives of the past, those traditionalists shout “revisionism,” as if that new understanding is something to be shunned.
That any human expression can be objective, apolitical, is a naive position. In response to those arguing Ivanka Trump’s new book is not a political work, Ani Kokobobo reveals:
She claims she wrote it before her father’s election, “from the perspective of an executive and an entrepreneur.” And though they criticize her for being tritederivativeout of touch and racially tone-deaf, most readers have accepted the premise that this is a largely apolitical book.
Yet as every scholar of literature knows, each book contains what theorist Fredric Jameson has dubbed a “political unconscious.” In other words, through the sheer act of narrating, a book reinforces one particular point of view while policing others.
This last point perfectly captures the reality of all history. And thus, the great irony of slurring history with “revisionism” is that history as a living document should be a constant act of revisionism as a retelling history in an effort to make the story clearer, more accurate—not an erasing of history.
Teaching that Washington never told a lie or that Columbus discovered America was in the moment an act of revisionism since they both are Dismantling Monuments: History as a Living Document | radical eyes for equity:


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