Midterm paper - Genifer Sibbald Professor Kim Hist 271 Mon...

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Genifer Sibbald Professor Kim Hist 271 Mon 7- 9:45p.m. March 3, 2015 Midterm Essay Much of what Americans know about American history is from textbooks. History textbooks have been teaching students nationwide about our past and have aided in what we know about it. These textbooks though have taught students a bias view of our American history. Textbooks have sought out to make Americans look like they can do no wrong and make very few errors compared to other races such as Africans or Native Americans. The very problem with these textbooks though is that they aim to heroify Americans. Historians find it imperative to speak highly of Americans to show their dominance over other races, but the past needs to be conveyed without bias to reveal the truth of historical figures and certain time periods such as the Gilded Age and Progressive Movement. A major theme throughout American History is white’s dominance of black’s in America. Almost every part of our culture does not go untouched by race and “racism is the sharpest and deepest division in life” (Lecture, February 2). For example, radio shows, movies, and television shows in the 1850’s to 1930’s were all about race relations (Loewen 136). This racial divide that was occurring in America is one factor that led to slavery among African Americans. Textbooks neglect to mention how slavery originated and Americans involvement in it. While textbooks do accurately depict the horrific times of slavery and how much it impacted African Americans, but at the same time they diminish the role whites partake in it. Historians make it seem that slavery happened spontaneously and nobody took a hand in creating this problem for Black Americans.
What textbooks fail to include is that slavery resulted from white’s desire for dominance over others and textbooks purposefully do this to protect America’s image. As a result of this period of slavery, a long enduring legacy was left looming over the United States. In most textbooks they fail to discuss the notion of slavery’s legacy of racism. Racism stemmed primarily from two processes of “taking land from and destroying indigenous people and enslaving Africans to work” (Loewen 143). To show the origination of racism, textbooks would have to show the connection between social structure, slavery, and superstructure, racism. Whites would never enslave other whites because they viewed it as unlawful, but they had no problem with enslaving Black Americans. Americans thought by enslaving Africans it was for their own good and would help provide them a better life in the United States. Even though slavery is gone now, its legacy of racism is still taking effect in our society today. To understand race relations in society today we need to understand the relationship between slavery and racism, but textbooks do not discuss the racism of whites in the past. Additionally, textbooks minimize the involvement that historical figures such as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson had in slavery.

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