The last few months have served to shed light on very important and relevant topics. When the protests began to fight racial tension, many scholarly people redirected this attention to the academic environment. An environment in which ableism, racism, and sexism are very much present. Both teachers and students have raised their voices regarding these topics, demanding things change—particularly class curriculums and the manner in which certain subjects are discussed.
By taking a look at education throughout the years, who gets to tell history? Who talks about relevant historical events? Which voices do we hear? Which characters become relevant in academic environments? If we look at the material given by most schools, every history book was written by a white heterosexual cis man. When we read the pages, we realize minority groups have been silenced and important events have been erased. History is told by a privileged group who have taken advantage of this to try and make themselves look better.
Minorities have made themselves heard outside of what has been written about history. They raise their voices through protests, trying to claim the place they deserve. Why do most people in positions of power pretend these groups do not exist? Why is it so important to silence them? Our history—the world history—would not exist if it were not for all the minority groups the white race has fought so hard to eradicate.
Sadly, the academic environment has built itself around this belief. Minority teachers have a harder time getting in front of a class because they are not presented with the opportunity. Minority written work does not normally belong in the class curriculum. History is not told by them. From personal experience, I can tell you most of my classes—as a Literature major—consisted of work written by white heterosexual cis men. However, the teachers who stuck the most with me were the ones who had the courage to go beyond that and include female authors, black authors, homosexual authors, or any other authors belonging to a minority group. Because it is not only history. Everything is mostly told in the voice of this privileged male.
Luckily, we are now facing changes. As the riots continue to spread throughout the world, they spread into the academic environment and more people are fighting to expand the curriculums. Teachers are fighting to get the voices of minorities heard. Students are demanding their right to education is respected and they are presented with every voice—the ones we have been hearing all along and the ones who have been silent for centuries. This is the time to improve the manner in which we receive our education.
However, there still are people who are against these changes. Schools that will not add minority groups into their curriculum. Teachers who refuse to change the way in which they have been teaching. Students who are not interested in reading new material and expanding their knowledge beyond what they are used to studying. We should continue to educate these people and show them why it is important to change who gets to tell history.
As a new semester is about to start, talk to your teachers if you feel they are leaving relevant information out of their curriculum. Get involved in student organizations that are trying to change the way in which classes are taught. Do not just stand on the sidelines as a movement is happening. This is the time to fight for what is right. For so long minority voices have been silenced and erased from history, from academia, but we can change that now. Going out to protest is not the only way in which we can demand we are heard. You can start in your own backyard by demanding better from your school.
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