An Open Letter to Americans, You've Been Lied To

Subject: An Open Letter to Americans, You've Been Lied To
From: Claire Headrick
Date: 4 Jun 2021

Dear Americans,
The history we have been taught throughout school is wrong. We have been taught misconceptions and they have led to American people being ignorant about historical figures and events. Did you know only 38% of American people know that the cause of the Civil War was slavery? Compare this to only 8% of high school seniors who can identify slavery as the main cause of the Civil War. When we see controversies coming into popularity such as the taking down of confederate statues or renaming of schools with names of confederate soldiers, there is an obvious lack of information when it comes to backing up arguments. If you are led believe that the people in the South were just fighting for “states’ rights” and that slavery had little to do with the confederate’s cause, of course you can see how keeping up those statues should not be a problem. But when Black Americans see those statues of people who fought to keep their grandparents and great grandparents enslaved, of course they want them gone. This is why education is so important, why the truth is so important. If we do not have the full story, how are we supposed to make valid arguments or claims related to historical issues that affect us today. Along with the Civil War, Native American history may be even more suppressed. Have you ever noticed how little we learn about Native American’s lives today? In the Smithsonian American Indian Museum’s new history curriculum, they mention that some students don’t even recognize that Native American cultures and people exist today because their curriculum only covers “pre-1900 context”(Diamond). To be completely transparent, I was one of those students. My hometown was founded on indigenous land, so we were taught about those who used to live on this land, but I never knew where the Chumash had gone or if they even existed today. Recent movements have been focusing on amplifying the voices of Native Americans. One example of amplification is the Teen Vogue video “Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving.” When we are not just learning history from the perspective of people in our own community, we gain a better understanding of people's struggles that impact their present views. It is much easier to support people when you have learned how history has treated them. If we are ignorant of past oppression, how can we see its effects in the oppression being implemented today? History has left out the stories of Black enslaved Americans, the stories of Native Americans forcibly removed from their land, and the fight of both groups to find equality in a country that ignores their issues. Without this representation of people of color in history, the ideas of white supremacy are reinforced in students. Although this country has its flaws and its hard history, we have grown and become a better country, but we still have plenty of progress to make. Instead of having pride for the lies we have been fed, why don’t we have pride for all we have done to overcome our mistakes and how much we can and will improve? The weight education holds in our lives is unparalleled; it impacts our views and values, and yet we have disregarded its importance.
Works Cited:
Diamond, Anna. “Inside a New Effort to Change What Schools Teach About Native American History.”, Smithsonian Institution, 18 Sept. 2019,
Shuster, Kate. “Teaching Hard History.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 31 Jan. 2018, Accessed 29 Apr. 2021