“Keep your Confederate money even if it’s made of tin”—The Confederates (a popular 1950’s barbershop quartet)
Some of you may have recently read an opinion piece in the NY Times written, surprisingly, by actor Tom Hanks. It expressed his outrage and concern over the omission of The Tulsa Massacre from the curriculum he’d been offered in his history classes. It is most certainly a shock, as comments about the article stated, especially if you’ve always seen yourself as uniquely committed to the historical record of humanity. Hanks admits to being an amateur history buff who includes it in his story telling often, as many of us do. Mr. Hanks expressed his outrage clearly and simply, with the cry, why didn’t they tell me?, ringing throughout the piece. Near the end of his essay, he says we must, “stop the battle to whitewash curriculums to avoid discomfort for students.”
That was the basic theme of his article, as you’ll see if you go to the link above. His lament sounds familiar when he decries the premise that the Tulsa Massacre was “too painful a lesson for our young white ears.” I know that’s been a popular manifestation of curriculum control over the past couple of decades, and yet, I don’t think it’s fully the point. Mr. Hanks’ argument should address the power to control information for any reason. Whether it’s social media or the school curriculum, everyone should have full and equal access to the same set of facts.
Does that sound familiar? Much of the recent argument in America has resonated with ‘fake news’ and the lack of sharing a level playing field of the same truths, and of course that damages a democracy. It’s not just the curriculum taught in our schools, we know that life-long learning is being affected by the purposeful control of realities for adults as well. But here’s the rub: whitewash doesn’t really work, at least not completely. What’s underneath always shows through eventually. I learned that early on from my southern relatives. Continue Reading