The answer to this question is NO.
There is only one American history, but two experiences within it. The dominant experience is the White European experience. And the second is all others, from diverse ethnic backgrounds. For this discussion we focus on the African Slave cultural experience, which is the most prominent historical experience alongside the White European cultural experience.
Traditionally, when American history is taught, the White European experience is dominant. The African Slave culture experience is secondary (along with many others including Native American, Mexican American, Chinese American, and the rest). America has been a cultural melting pot. Prior to the age of commercial aviation, everyone who arrived here, somehow, from somewhere, became an inhabitant. Therefore, our one American history has multiple cultural experiences.
Why do we ask the first question: Does our country have two histories? By virtue of the previous paragraph, the answer is simple. America’s history does not belong to the White man, it belongs to God, who in His Divine wisdom, mercy and supreme love, brought us all here to be together.
So the real question is, in the words of Rodney King, “why can’t we all get along”. If we are to be one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, then we must understand, accept and respect everyone’s experience in this one United States of America.
Do you accept/agree with this perspective of American History? Why or why not?
Why has the American understanding of history not fully acknowledged the African Slave cultural experience?
Why do you think America, from its beginnings, developed as a multicultural society? By accident? By design? By opportunism?
Has the dominance of one cultural experience helped or hindered the advance of our American experience and society?
Please share your thoughts below.
Hi Daryl. In answer to the question about whether there is one American history. I believe there is merit to your argument that there is one history, but two experiences (and more) within it. That’s a great response and one that deserves deep, objective reflection, especially because different races and ethnic groups are still sharing different experiences as our national history unfolds. I think the only complete narrative is one we don’t have full access to. And that’s from a Divine perspective. So I can only speak from my own experience. I come from a liberal family. My father ran the Department of Welfare in Maine, supported “Up With People”, advanced to a position in Washington reporting to the secretary of Health and Welfare under the Johnson Administration until it left and Nixon was voted into office. As a teenager, I was exposed to the Civil Rights and Poor Peoples’… Read more »
Thank You Scott for sharing your heart and mind in response to this conversation piece. If you have an hour or so to spare, I would Love to share a presentation with you about American history from the African Slave Culture experience. With all of your experience and knowledge I am sure we can have a soul stirring conversation together. How can I reach you?
Really appreciate this discussion question. I am not a scholar, but, as a native citizen of Oklahoma, I was devastated when I learned only last year about the Tulsa Massacre. In the 60’s and 70’s , I took Oklahoma History in High School and, again, in undergraduate school . In those courses , not a word was ever mentioned about horrible behavior and tragic events of that day. I am grateful that we are having an High Noon experience,here in Oklahoma, learning about the history that had been suppressed and denied for so long.
Just the same as the Biblical record traces histories of seemingly ordinary people who, by virtue of their faith and their love of God and mankind, became essential and influential people for God’s purpose, I would posit that there is, within the U.S., a remnant of people of living faith. These are the people who answered to a higher power. They returned good for evil. They saw lacks and inequities and they built solutions. They challenged unrighteous laws or practices, often paying a terrible price. They didn’t just “have faith,” but they “lived faith in action.” Although there have been people of all ethnicities, and faiths who were among this group, I think it’s pretty clear that the African-Americans have stood out. Like the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, they have endured 400 years of dehumanizing circumstances. Despite the total unrighteousness of treatment, they consistently acted with more dignity,… Read more »
There are a multitude of American Histories. It’s not just black and white. The Irish were slave in this country long before the blacks and even after they came. The American Indian was treated horribly. And, what about the Chinese, Italians, Jewish, etc. This country was made up of people who paid indemnity to be called Americans. We need to knock off the divisiveness and unite as one people under God.
Thank you Jeremiah for your response. The purpose of this short conversation piece was never to create division. It is simply to answer the question, “Does the US have 2 Histories?” I answered that question in my 2nd paragraph: “Traditionally, when American history is taught, the White European experience is dominant. The African Slave culture experience is secondary (along with many others including Native American, Mexican American, Chinese American, and the rest).” I need you to help me in understanding that the Irish were slaves in America. I do understand that there is slavery in Irish history in Europe. I missed the chapter when Irish people were brought over here in chains, against their Will and stripped of all sense of history, culture and identity. I do understand that many Irish immigrants worked as Indentured Servants and then was given land, freedom and resources to establish their own communities. I… Read more »
Irish being indentured to English was slavery. They never made enough to buy their freedom and the english used the women as breeding hens. They were beaten and misused just as were the black slaves. I do not know why but once the english had the black slaves they quit using the Irish. The other races and nationalities that conflicted with the english were not enslaved but were sorely abused. I think a review of who in history began slavery would be enlightening. Karma.
There is only one race – the Human Race! All lives matter!
Good points by Carol and David Eaton. Every individual has their own experiences, viewpoints and lifestyles. The United States gives immense freedom for individuals to express themselves and live life as they see fit. It is time to stop worrying about race and skin color and concentrate on maintaining the freedoms we have to be ourselves. MLK said it best when he said to judge people based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. This works both ways. There are good and bad people in every race and no race is superior to any other. God is the loving parent of ALL MANKIND. That is the paradigm that should be operable in all societies.
Rev.Daryl Clarke has a heartfelt love of God and for building His kingdom. His post brings me to ask several questions: Where does he get the notions about the teaching of American history? Do his ideas come from reading other thinkers and texts, such as 1619? Has he taught in public schools or colleges or been a graduate student for the last 4-5 decades? Well, I have done all three, having taught in more than several colleges, and high schools and studied in three graduate programs during 1977-2014. The main course I taught was American Literature I that included culture and history from 1620-1863; we covered the American Founding, the Native American encounters, treaties and genocide, the African Slave narratives, such as The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, his slaveship experiences and pioneering work as an Abolitionist (who married an English woman),[British abolitionists supported Equiano’s work and helped him finance… Read more »
Thank you for your response Professor Donna Ferrantello! To answer your questions about my historical knowledge, I have no formal training in historical studies of any kind. Having a background in historical education wasn’t a requirement for me to express my opinions on the topic. I do have extensive background in study and research from my undergraduate and graduate courses. I appreciate your sharing your background and accomplishments in education. I am looking forward to reading one of your articles here on the Higher Forum Conversation Starter Categories. Isn’t our country amazing, where we have total freedom in expressing our various points of view? May God Bless & Long Live these United States of America!!!
I think you misunderstood the question. It is not about capability; but
asking where you got your information. Have you been in classes that
taught material, teacher preparation of it or talked to someone else or
read a book? This is a fair question: How do we know what we know?
We all can learn from the question of where we got our opinions! It may surprise us to find out!
(How do we know what we know?) Do we actually “know” anything unless we pound books through academia? How did I know some Asian man was the 2nd coming before I ever layed eyes on him? How did I know excerpts of the Divine Principle before my first lecture? When my opinions began to change from encounters with an invisible force for good influencing my thoughts and actions, was I delusional? Spirit world is real.Our ancestors make up a portion of that world. Thus, I am a product of all those who came before me. Thank God!
There is not one “White European experience” and “all others”. There is a rainbow of experiences that spans the spectrum of racial, economic and cultural traditions. Compressing and ignoring the multiplicity of all of the “non-other” experiences into one “White” experience is a barrier to social progress and community.
Thanks for our response Chris! I am curious, can you tell me the immediate and initial thought and feelings you had directly after you read the article, before you wrote your response?
Hi Daryl, as soon as I read the first sentence, “two experiences”, I thought, “no, a wide diversity of experiences”. It was not a strong reaction, but rather a familiar one: I have heard this “two experiences” perspective before so it did not surprise me. By the way, I am an immigrant to the US myself, from a region where I observed significant racism within what many call the “white” community in the US. I have also lived in several other countries, none with the same history of slavery as the US, so I understand why Americans tend to compress diversity within and across races into just a few types. I hope these additional details are pertinent to your question.
Well Chris, you are man of great experiences from divergent parts of the world. Thank you for understanding American history the way you do! As you can see, there is something uniquely different about United States history that causes each of us to pay attention to what goes on here in this country.
I have always enjoyed learning about the history of America. I guess that had something to do with the fact that I was born on the 4th of July. I first became aware of the fact that there are different histories of this country when I took a class in African American history in college. That kind of opened my mind to realize there might be something called “White history”. I grew up in a community dominated by Asians and I don’t remember learning too much about Asian American history either except for the Japanese involvement in WWII. I decided to enroll in the Ethnic studies program and learned a lot more about the diverse histories of Americans. In the last few years I had the opportunity to teach US History in high school and from my experience, there is a much greater emphasis on the melting pot concept of… Read more »
I agree with you Jack! There is only ONE American History and we need to include everyone in the story! Who will re-write the HIStory and make it OURstory?
That’s an important question. History textbooks for use in public schools are created by people with their own bias’s and the trend has been towards a progressive, secular humanistic viewpoint. The 1619 project is a good example of the rewriting of history with implicit bias’s. Inclusiveness of divergent thought will be required if future historians can meet the challenge.
I guess we need to have a New set of standards for American History that includes all contributions to building our Great Nation inspired by God and motivated by Jesus, Our Christ, Lord & Saviour! Jesus is our Elder Brother who helped shape this, Elder Son Nation!
I agree that America’s history does not belong to white people, but it is God’s history. It is not about the history of white people, but the history of God trying to spread and strengthen Christianity because He is working to restore all His children. Unfortunately, humanity in general, even with the influence of religion, fall prey to our fallen nature. Like Satan we try to establish our value by dominating others. If we want to go the opposite way of Satan we need to fight the urge to be “more valuable” than someone else , recognize our unique, unchanging value in front of God, and serve others with God’s love.
Well Put! God is in control, only if we can write it in our history that way there would be a deeper meaning to the purpose of the existence of these United States!
It seems our one America has multiple cultural experiences AND it also seems that every individual has their own unique experience within their own culture…just confirming the fact that we each have to take responsibility to correct our unique foibles.
I believe that is correct. Within any particular group there will be different experiences, different aspirations, different opinions, different talents and different beliefs. Not all people in the same family, let alone larger groups, share the same religious, political or socio-cultural perspectives.