BY AARON BARLOW
In 1992 and 1993, I taught American history in a Brooklyn high school, students half African-American, half white. In discussing race, I mentioned that the American population was less than 15% black. My students were horrified.
They couldn’t believe it. “The country is half black,” one shouted, “just look around!” I was stumped; my own experience spanned a dozen states, rural communities, cities and small towns—in the North, the Midwest and the South. Theirs did not. Most had hardly been outside of New York City. Their education had been carefully calibrated to give equal weight to the experiences of those of African ancestry with those of European. How was I going to convince them of something different from what they saw with their own eyes and that years of schooling had seemed to confirm?
My students thought that I was echoing a lie put forth by racist America to denigrate…
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