Opinion | Pop Culture

Our Histories Are Not Created Equal

Why Americans should be upfront with our kids—and ourselves—about how power and privilege shaped our backgrounds.
Our Histories Are Not Created Equal
Image: chicago2016 / Flickr

My daughter’s fourth-grade class recently spent several weeks researching its family histories. Each student chose one country from their background for a “heritage project,” and then presented what they learned at a lunch where many parents brought their culture’s food to share.

This is a great project…for those of us who have straightforward “heritages” and plenty of information about our family history. My husband’s and my families came here from northern Europe, and my daughter enjoyed learning about our histories. A heritage project is a far more complicated assignment, though, for kids with little knowledge of their ancestry. That includes some who have been adopted as well as many black Americans, a large proportion of whom do not know their families’ origins before they were trafficked and enslaved.

In this country, our heritages are not all created equal.

At the heritage lunch, several black students shared research on states ...

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