Past to Present
"If you've ever wondered what you'd do during slavery, the holocaust, or the civil rights movement; you're doing it right now." -@25Park
I saw this quote the other day, posted by Tracee Ellis Ross. Her caption was "IF YOU'RE NOT MAD, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION" and it really convicted me.
Growing up, I was taught history with a sense of its great distance from me. I was sparingly (if ever) taught about the many terrible things from the past that are reviled as the worst parts of human history: Genocides of Native Americans, Colonialism, Imperialism, the Holocaust, chattel slavery, Japanese internment camps, etc. But I was taught that these occurrences were distant, ancient, extinct, far, far from me and the time I was living in.
Thankfully, I invested myself into self-education. I learned different things that were in direct opposition to the history that I'd been taught and the way that I'd been taught it. I learned that the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 (For perspective, that's the birth year of Taylor Swift). In my own family, I heard first hand accounts of different civil rights era milestones, witnessed by my own grandparents. I started to understand that the form of history I was brought up with in middle and high school was meant to instill within me a complacency toward my country and the world. I was meant to be content with the way things were, how better they were from the past.
But the present betrays its likeness to the past. Women are still treated as inferior to men. Rapists and murderers walk free while the innocent are crowded into prisons because of their poverty and/or skin color. Slavery still exists within the private prison system and the sex slave trade (among other things). Black people are still targeted by governmental institutions. Law Enforcement officers still abuse their power and kill black children, men, and women. Transgender people still face danger of losing their lives and freedom, as do other members of the LGTBQ+ community. There are still war torn countries and people living underground. Children are being separated from their parents because their family was born on the "wrong" side of a boundary line.
Injustice runs rampant but it is so far removed from us in the "developed world."
I attribute this greatly to the way that we, as US and Western, children are taught history. We must open our eyes and throw off the complacency that will cripple us as individuals. We must educate ourselves.
It is insane to think that the world is now "just". We live in times that mirror those of the past. History is repeating itself, just as evil is evolving and disguising itself within different names and institutions. We must stay alert and aware, because we are currently living in the type of "terrible times" that we were taught about.