“Ask yourself as you’re learning history: Who’s telling the story?”
Last week, Cartoon Network put out a short PSA featuring Pearl from Steven Universe as she highlights a serious problem with our education system: the viewing of our history through a white lens.
The PSA starts off with Pearl teaching the class about Lewis Latimer and how he is often overlooked for having invented an efficient, affordable filament for use in light bulbs.
But it’s after that point when it really kicks into gear. Pearl stops and asks why kids are learning about Edison and not Latimer.
“These textbooks are incomplete,” she says. “There were Black Roman warriors, Black medieval knights, Black classical musicians, Black cowboys, Black fighter pilots…where are they?”
“I worry about you humans,” she continues. “You rely on these stories to know your own history. Thanks to systemic racism, most of your storytellers prioritized white accomplishments, which leaves you with an incomplete picture.”
Although the clip was posted to Twitter a week ago, today it began trending as more people came across it.
The response has been positive overall, with some showing surprise that a network aimed at children is tackling this issue better than others.
Others have pointed out that this campaign feels different than other corporate efforts as it’s not ~tied~ to anything.
Of course, this is Twitter, so there were negative comments as well. But we should all keep this particular bit in mind as we look at history, and at how we were taught about history in school:
“Ask yourself as you’re learning history,” Pearl says, “who’s telling the story? Was this modified to make white readers comfortable? Are major details being left out that would credit people of color and center their point of view?”