AND We Can Together Create Ourstory

July 30th, 2017

I was sitting with a twelve year old recently. She was telling me of her goal of being elected historian of her middle school class. The word history stuck in my head. I was thinking about the history I studied in school.

The successful flight of John Glenn around the earth did not contain the important facts about how that flight came to be successful. It left out the part about the contributions of African American women, called computers, who enabled the flight. It was their calculations that got the astronaut both in and out of earth’s orbit. It was their talent and contribution that gave the astronaut the confidence that his mission would be successful. A more accurate telling of the story would be about what they and others did together.

When I studied the history of the United States, I learned about Christopher Columbus discovering America. I did not read about the native peoples who had long before discovered and settled in this land. I read about Thomas Jefferson. I did not know about his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings, which produced generations of children still discovering their relationship to Thomas Jefferson and slavery.

History, as written and taught in our schools, has been the story created and told by primarily one group of men, his story. I thought about the twelve-year old writing herstory to document and archive the activities of her class.

AND I thought about how important it is that we keep making space to challenge the learned stories to welcome a much richer and more complete version of who we are and what we share together by actively seeking others’ stories of the same events.

I wonder what it would take to stop writing his(story), herstory, and together create and discover ourstory.

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