Could a change in the social studies curriculum taught in schools help begin the process of dismantling systemic racism? In today’s episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather is joined by Melissa Tomlinson who explains the revolutionary Amistad Curriculum. This fully integrated curriculum would introduce African history, culture, and society into a holistic education plan. Our current eurocentric curriculum only covers people from Africa beginning with slavery and ignores centuries of culture and history. The Amistad curriculum would change the way social studies is taught and could help change society for the better.
White Supremacy in Schools
As part of New Jersey Revolution Radio’s ongoing coverage of white supremacy in Ventnor Schools, we investigate possible solutions. Friend of the show, Melissa Tomlinson joins us to talk about a revolutionary new way to teach history. Melissa is an educator and activist from South Jersey.
The Amistad Bill was enacted in 2002. It is NJ bill number is A-1301. It calls on NJ schools to incorporate African American history into the social studies curriculum. This act established the Amistad Commission. This commission’s mandate is to bring in historically accurate curriculum and books which teach the true roll of minorities in the history of our country and global society. This comprehensive curriculum seeks to provide a lens that is not Eurocentric.
African Culture should be studied year-round, not only in February.
Currently we only infuse a tiny amount of African history during “Black History Month”. People of color exist every day, not only 28 days. Unless we recognize people every day we will never develop the historical perspective to unite together as a nation as a whole. This lack of perspective can lead to hurtful statements like what happened in Ventnor Elementary or other racist incidents throughout NJ.
It all starts with communication
We are not having the conversations we need to have. Teachers need to be trained on how to have these productive conversations. This crucial education benefits all students both students of color and white students. It’s a disservice to all students to not have a comprehensive view of history.
Not Just Social Studies
The Amistad Curriculum is unique because it infuses not just history but every subject with minority history. In incorporates reading about mathematicians and scientists of color. Their contributions to society have long been ignored in the current curriculum. This is an entire package prepared for educators. Everything an educator needs is provided. It even includes methods of cross circular planning.
History is not just for the white gaze
The Amistad plan begins with indigenous populations on their own terms. Indigenous history is currently taught beginning with their interactions with Europeans. All of these communities have their own individual history that needs to be explored outside of only their interactions with colonizers. It incorporates all viewpoints at every point in history. We can’t ignore the history that brought all of us to where we are today.
Issues of Capitalism and Communism
In the lessons from the 1940’s to the 1970’s it discusses issues of capitalism and communism. This is a crucial part of the civil rights discussion that has been ignored. There is a lot to learn from how dissent was silenced in this time period. Those who don’t learn history can never move forward. We will just keep repeating the same patterns over and over.
Every educator in NJ can register on the Amistad website and get access to curriculum. http://www.njamistadcurriculum.net/