Teen Talk

Black history is everyone’s history

Teen TalkCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Jan. 21, 2022) — As Black kids, we are always asked about our history. Sadly, we don’t even know our complete history because they don’t teach it to us in school.

When February comes around, many articles or themes for Black History Month become the responsibility of Black students because most teachers are using the curriculum they are given, people are uncomfortable talking about it or others are giving us the space to talk.

Being asked to write about Black History Month is sometimes challenging because we don’t always have the knowledge and don’t always want this responsibility.

Quite frankly, anyone should be able to discuss and accurately convey these topics. But our history books are outdated, contain little information and are often inaccurate, which requires us to do our own research.

As the president and vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at Northgate High School, we make it a point to educate ourselves and our campus throughout the school year by sharing historical facts and discussing current events – instead of only doing so in February.

Last year, Isabel Wilkerson stated: “Slavery is so foundational and lasted for so long, that it will not be until the year 2022, next year, that the United States will have been a free and independent nation for as long as slavery lasted on this soil.”

Slavery began in 1619 and ended on June 19, 1865, which was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves. This is why Juneteenth is commemorated on that day.

Facts like these are what should be in our history books instead of vague content in a few paragraphs. The current curriculum spends chapter after chapter discussing how America was born and leaves out the parts that make our history look bad.

The school system only teaches us about Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They rarely talk about Marie Van Brittan Brown, who created the first home security system; Madam C.J. Walker, a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and political and social activist who created Black hair care products and became a self-made millionaire; or Henrietta Lacks, whose cells are used today to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses on the growth of cancer cells without having to experiment on humans.

These are some of the people we featured on Northgate’s BSU Instagram last year, but most people didn’t recognize the names.

Although we live in a predominantly white area, and our school districts lack Black teachers and administrators, it shouldn’t only be the responsibility of minorities to educate people on this topic because it’s exhausting. We are all Americans, and everyone should be willing to learn our real history regardless of their race.

Clayton residents Jordan and Jada Tillman are students at Northgate High. Jordan is president of the Black Student Union and Jada is vice president.