From Neil Armstrong and Christopher Columbus, to Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, the history taught in U.S. public (and I suspect in private) schools focuses overwhelmingly on the white people who have shaped our nations history. That history has been spun in such a way as to overlook the many horrific acts committed by white people since the founding of this country. In thinking back to what I learned in public school, the most barbaric event caused by white folks that I learned about was the Civil War. And that was a watered down, “the Civil War wasn’t fought completely over slavery” version (no amount of historical revisionism will change the fact that YES, it was fought over slavery). I recall learning about Christopher Columbus “discovering” this land, but not the rape and murder of Indigenous citizens at the hands of Columbus and his fellow colonists. I remember learning about various United States Presidents, but curiously, the fact that many of the early ones were slave owners was left out of teachings. I certainly never learned about the racialized history of policing in this country. In fact, in addition to the history of the United States being presented from an almost exclusively white perspective, it was also told in an overwhelmingly positive one.
When you look back at USAmerican history without the tinted glasses, however, you begin to realize that that history you were taught? It’s not so rosy after all. White people have indeed contributed to the shaping of this nation. They have performed many great deeds and been responsible for many important discoveries and inventions. They’ve also been responsible for some of the most heinous, vicious acts of brutality one can imagine (and some you don’t want to). Given that most people aren’t taught these unsavory aspects of USAmerican history AND given that so many people whine about a lack of a White History Month (bc public schools around the nation teaching a version of history that is biased in favor of white people and the positive contributions they’ve made isn’t enough), I figured what the heck. Let’s give ’em what they asked for. For a third (and probably not final) time:
1. Erasing the truth of the Midwest Mound Cities (settlers refused to believe they were built by Indigenous people)
2. Peter Burnett’s “Lash Law” required free or enslaved African-Americans be whipped twice a year until they left Oregon.
3. The Oregon Donation Land Act explicitly excluded African-Americans and Hawaiians from owning land in the state.
4. The third Exclusion Law Oregon enacted out prevented African-Americans from migrating to the state.
5. Oregon’s Constitution made it the only state admitted to the union that explicitly barred African-Americans from living, working, or migrating to the region.
6. The Clotilda is the last known slave ship to have forcibly carried Africans to the United States to be slaves.
7. Former Confederate soldiers and KKK members slaughtered anywhere from 60 to 150 African-Americans in what is known as the Colfax Massacre.
8. The Thibodaux Massacre saw white supremacists slaughter 60 African-Americans who wanted to organize unions.
9. Racist white people went from house to house, murdering virtually all the Black residents of a small Texas town in what came to be known as the Slocum Massacre.
10. Believed to be the last of his tribe, an Indigenous man named Yahi was held by the Museum of Anthropology and treated as if he were an animal in captivity.
11. The white residents of Forsyth, Georgia forced 1,100 African-Americans to leave the county.
12. The 1917 St. Louis Race Riot was one of numerous examples of anti-Black racism erupting into violence and saw the vicious slaughter of (by some accounts) up to 100 African-Americans at the hands of white rioters.
13. Despite little risk of civilians catching typhus from Mexican immigrants, U.S. officials in El Paso, Texas began (this is wretched) forcibly “sanitizing” Mexicans immigrating to the states. Hearing reports of officials taking photos of nude women as well as stories of immigrants being doused in kerosene and set aflame, a group of Mexican women opposed the racist actions of U.S. officials in what is now known as the Bath Riots of 1917 .
14. The Immigration Act of 1917 was a sweeping move to restrict immigration into the United States.
15. The Conspiracy to kill the Osage Tribe was exactly that: a wide ranging conspiracy by white denizens of Oklahoma. They sought to steal the wealth from Osage Tribe members who, prior to the 1920s, had discovered oil on their land, making quite wealthy (they’d accumulated what would today be more than $400 million dollars).
16. To prevent Blacks and whites from procreating, a series of laws later called the 1924 Racial Integrity Act were created.
17. In the 1930s, roughly 600,000 United States citizens were illegally deported bc of their Mexican heritage.
18. After quite a bit of coaxing from Allied nations, the United States government agreed to house Nazi POWs on U.S. soil. The prisoners quickly saw that African-Americans were treated worse than they were. No, you did not misread that and your mind is not playing tricks on you: NAZI PRISONERS WERE TREATED BETTER THAN BLACKS.
19. African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Puerto Ricans soldiers were subjected to experiments to determine the effects of mustard gas on humans. Yes, the United States government once again used racial minorities as lab rats. (warning: some may find the images at the link disturbing)
was is so racist it didn’t ratify the 15th Amendment until 1959. It didn’t need to, bc the 15th Amendment was the law of the land. Nonetheless, for a state explicitly founded as whites-only, the symbolism inherent in refusing to acknowledge voting rights for African-Americans speaks volumes.
21. One of the most deplorable white supremacists in United States history, BIrmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor ordered the use of water hoses and attack dogs on peaceful Blacks during the Birmingham Campaign in 1963.
22. During the 1960s, law enforcement in several cities used the The Black Sniper Myth as justification for police brutality against African-Americans.
23. In 1967, author William Styron told the story of the bloodiest slave revolt in U.S. history through the eyes of the leader of that revolt–Nat Turner. That’s literary blackface, btw.
24. 2 years before the Kent State University shootings and 2 months before the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, state-sanctioned agents (police officers) killed 3 Black students and injured 28 more at South Carolina State College in what is known as the Orangeburg Massacre.
25. In 1981, Vincent Chin was beaten to death with a baseball bat by three white men who never served a day in prison for their murderous act.
26. In 1988, SCOTUS ruled in favor of the United States federal government who sought to build an access road through National Forest Land Service. Three Indigenous tribes opposed the measure. The ruling was a violation of the freedom of religious expression of the tribes, who used the area for ceremonial purposes. Had the tribes been Christians, they’d almost certainly have won the case.
27. Black patrons denied entry into ReBar, a promising new gay club in NYC.
28. Generation after generation of discrimination and negligence have resulted in Blacks being disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution.
29. Residents of Sandbranch, Texas have had no running water for 30-plus years. Take a guess at the racial makeup of the town.
30. The long history of law enforcement using attack dogs
Note: Vincent Chin’s last name was accidentally misspelled in the calendar. The correct spelling is Chin, not Chen. My apologies.