History Lessons

02020-06-18 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Last year I started reading A People’s History of the United States. What a bloody history we have. I have to read small sections of this book at a time, and let time pass between them, or it becomes too overwhelmingly sad. I am reminded of being in middle school and learning about German history. These are hard lessons, difficult lessons, but I find that they are also important lessons.

Yesterday I found this blog post by Jason Hickel, who has a very impressive CV:

I still remember the first time I taught colonial history at the LSE.

LSE students are among Britain’s finest: they graduate from top schools, perform brilliantly on their A-level exams. And yet when I gave a lecture about the Indian famines of the late 19th century to a classroom full of third years, I was met with blank stares. As a direct result of British policy, 30 million Indians died needlessly of hunger between 1875 and 1902. Laid head to foot, their corpses would stretch the length of England, from Dover to the Scottish borders, 85 times over.

No one in the classroom had ever heard of it.

The whole post is eye opening and I recommend it.

During my early morning walk I saw this headline in the local paper:

Santa Fe mayor calls for removal of statue of Spanish conquistador:

Mayor Alan Webber said Wednesday he plans to call for the removal of three controversial monuments in Santa Fe, including an obelisk in the heart of downtown that will be at the center of a rally Thursday led by indigenous activists.

The mayor also announced plans to form a commission that will evaluate every statue and monument in the city and help determine their fate — a move former Mayor Javier Gonzales started but that hadn’t gained traction until now. In addition, Webber said he planned to sign an emergency proclamation Wednesday “addressing institutional racism,” which “recognizes that we are taking action both to address the moral truth of the moment and also the legal truth of the moment.”


  1. JaneParhamKatz

    Ottmar, I have gone deep this week: racism within myself. Of course, my Oklahoma middle school history portrayed the Indians as stereotype savages and the American settlers [conquerors] as heroes. Very little was explained about the Civil War and the devastation of slavery. Consider this education pure propaganda. So great our mayor is pulling down Conquistadors’ statues, and the stone Confederate soldiers are finally falling. Not to mention the changes happening in law enforcement and even the Supreme Court.

    Growing up in Oklahoma was difficult. I never saw a black person, except our housekeeper once a week. I absolutely loved her! Reading BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE burned and broke my heart, then DANCES WITH WOLVES tore me apart. Watching ROOTS on TV flipped me completely around to consciousness that blacks were here from far away places, just as my family was. They are just as “American “ as I.

    I think I went into reverse racism. I formed relationships with people from all over the world, fell madly in love with a man from India – almost married him; dated a fellow from Kenya and a man from Egypt. My best pals were a girl from Yugoslavia at the time (Bozana was her name!), a cute Japanese boy, a beautiful native American girl, a lovely German man (a botanist), and a cheeky English girl. I felt these people were somehow more sophisticated and superior to me.

    Well, now a new dimension has appeared in my heart/mind. As I have seen the recent protesters re George Floyd’s murder and noticed all the black lawyers, District Attorneys, Mayors, Governors, authors, commentators, every last drop of racism has been cleaned out of me. All these people are beautiful, bright, accomplished. I feel at one with all of them, just as I felt at one with my brilliant mother and father, uncle and aunt. My sun is brighter, my air is fresher. This is so hard to explain, but it is marvelous!

  2. JaneParhamKatz

    We have to finally drum racism out of America!


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