Letter: Vote for school board that doesn’t want to edit the past

South Whidbey’s school board election has become a referendum on whether our children will learn the whole of American history, the ideals as well as the ignorance and harms.

1776. 1619. Both are our history. Yes, the founders owned slaves. Yes, People of Color, once debased, are now leaders in arts, politics, medicine and more. Neither truth erases the complexity of a history of high ideals and failed compassion.

Our children can learn about slavery and colonialism — and in the same class about our beautiful Constitution, Bill of Rights and our 33 Amendments. This is all the story of America.

German and Jewish children alike learn about the insanity of the Holocaust, vowing they will never again allow such hatred and prejudice to infect their society. South Africa formed a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to tell the stories of apartheid. We become better people by facing our failures. We can ask: what scars remain in those whose parents and grandparents were harmed by ignorance and hate?

Our founding generations only considered Anglo-Saxons as white. Italians, Irish, Germans, Poles were all foreign scum without full rights as white people. Over time, we let go of our prejudices. We can learn that history, too, and celebrate how far we’ve come – but still how far we have yet to go.

I grew up in a town where Blacks and Jews were not allowed to buy real estate in white neighborhoods. Oregon originally excluded Blacks. We can face this history to know we can do better.

Ethnic studies. How wonderful to learn about the many races, rejected at first, that are becoming ever more one nation.

1776. 1619. Without fear and hate we can learn it all. This isn’t tit for tat, you hurt us so we’ll hurt you. This is building a foundation of truth and reconciliation.

Vote for school board members who teach tolerance, not editing our past to suit us.

Vicki Robin


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