2>Historians Statement: What is the purpose of studying history?
I am interested in history because the past has demonstrated who is at the top and who has power. In the past, racism was a major problem that has not been solved. Since Hawaii became a State in 1959, our founders have established a constitution which states that people must be treated equal. But that’s not true. Teachers who are white have taught us using white textbooks and curriculum. To be accepted by the society, we are taught to hold a certain belief. If we use Pidgin or Creole in our job descriptions, it will result in low pay. White culture has always dominated society, as history has repeatedly proven.
I study history as a black person because I see the opportunity to change. The American Dream was alluring to me, and I believed that I would succeed if I put in the effort. However, it did not mention that people of color had a much harder time achieving this dream. As a Filipino male who is heterosexual and Catholic (a subdivision within Christianity), I get treated better and accepted by the community because my faith and views on religion are similar to those of many Americans. We can also observe how people from other cultures, especially those who are of African American or Middle Eastern descent, are treated. The fact that people are so quick to believe in the whitewashed narrative of African Americans as criminals or terrorists is a testament to how easily they will accept the dominant narrative. The oppression of people of color, their discrimination and feeling unwelcomed in the land they have lived and grown up in makes me sad. I am motivated to act and change things now so that people are not oppressed.
The counter narrative is the narrative that many people don’t know about. The mainstream story is whitewashed often by those that believe white power must be restored. This narrative oppresses and whitewashes people. Slave’s in the 1800s couldn’t know who they were. Slavery is a part of our lives in the 21st century. We are not allowed to learn our history for fear of us striking back. People of color fear that I, or other people like me, studying history will encourage future generations not to acknowledge white power.
What are the two reasons I study history again? What will happen if i don’t study history? I study the past because we need to start changing things with our generation. Whitney Houston said, “the future is our children,” and today’s children need to know the oppression that has shaped our past. Future leaders, who know the difference between power and privilege, the right from the wrong will have children that are capable of recognizing the differences. Understanding history and learning about it will help us avoid electing a Trump who is anti-feminist and homophobic. If I don’t understand history, then I am ignorant and will not be aware of how racism affects me or others. Without history, I wouldn’t have known about the racial inequality, class hierarchy and anti-black crimes, anti LGBT laws, marriage as an imperialistic tool, etc. I’ve never felt happy about ‘hitting the books’.