The harsh reality of the United States origin

If someone were to ask you about the United States’ origin, you would most likely refer to the year 1776. July 4, 1776 is the date on which many Americans think this great nation originated. However, some would argue that American history originated as early as 1619. 

“1619 is not a year that most Americans know as a notable date in our country’s history,” said Jake Silverstein of the New York Times Magazine. “Those who do are at most a tiny fraction of those who can tell you that 1776 is the year of our nation’s birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that the moment that the country’s defining contradictions first came into the world was in late August of 1619? That was when a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin.”

I, as a woman of color raised in the United States, often wondered why slavery and other historical events such as the Trail of Tears were not talked about more in our school’s education system. Slavery is just as important to the history of the United States as other topics. 

Valentina Caceres, editor of the student newspaper The Palmetto Panther, wrote an article explaining the purpose of the 1619 Project.

“The 1619 Project aims to reframe history, but it opens the door for the chance to reframe the present and future generations,” Caceres wrote.

However, some oppose this push for change. 

“Contrary to its stated goals, it appears the purpose of the 1619 Project is to delegitimize America, and further divide and demoralize its citizenry,” tweeted conserative writer and commentator Benjamin Weingarten. 

“The 1619 Project seeks to tear down America, not lift her up. It seeks to divide, not unify. It aims to distort facts, not merely teach them. It does so as leftist political propaganda masquerading as history,” stated Rep. Skyler Wheeler of Iowa.

I wholeheartedly disagree with Weingarten and Wheeler. The 1619 Project serves to unify our nation by shedding light on its true origin. Those who oppose this change are being close-minded.

Several Republican lawmakers strongly dislike the 1619 Project.

“Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and South Dakota filed bills last month that, if enacted, would cut funding to K-12 schools and colleges that provide lessons derived from the award-winning project,” wrote Barbara Rodriguez in a USA Today article. “The South Dakota bill has since been withdrawn.”

As if this was not already disappointing enough Iowa is allowing parents to opt their students out of the Black History Month curriculum. Do these parents feel as though Black history is somehow inferior? Black history is a part of American history and should be treated with the same amount of respect. Otherwise, there should be an option for parents to opt their children out of learning American history in general. 

If we fail to adequately educate our future generations in America, then we are setting them up for failure in the long run. We want to ensure that our nation continues to progress, and we want unity and peace in the future. How will we accomplish that if we are not teaching the full truth about our nation’s past? What do we have to gain as a country by hiding slavery? What do we gain from ignoring Black history? How does this not already diversify our nation? Let us not fail our future generations and instead teach them to learn from their forefathers’ mistakes.