To the editor:
A little over four years ago, I was a senior at Gorham High School. I turned in an essay about the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by lingering thoughts on the protests in Ferguson. I discussed the history of oppression in this country and how this deep-seated racism endures today. I simply talked about why this history is still relevant to black Americans.
I was handed back my essay with just a few words written at the end: “No grade. Please see me.”
I saw my teacher after class, and they raised their voice at me, explaining how I made outrageous claims throughout this paper.
They claimed that our nation’s fraught history does not have an effect on the treatment of black Americans in the present day.
I went to the administration about this incident, and they took the teacher's side. I ended up writing a different paper and discarding the old one.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, I reread this essay. With a better understanding of history, race and oppression, I stand by what I wrote four years ago which was so quickly dismissed by my teacher and Gorham High School.
I still advocate for an understanding of how hundreds of years of brutal mistreatment affects the present.
With recent events, it’s important to accept that we in Gorham are not exempt from this nationwide problem.
We must understand the ways we contribute to systemic inequality. When we dismiss history, we are part of the problem.
Our school systems need to do better. We need to teach adequate, accurate history and teach our children why they should care about these issues.
This transcends politics. It’s about acknowledging the reality of our history. It’s about realizing history’s pertinence in today’s problems.