The sad fact is that the students who are being protected from the truth are usually the white students. Children of color learn their history at home, often as a matter of survival in a world in which the consequences of that history continue to reverberate for them today. So at the end of the day this “protection” from truth-telling benefits white children at the expense of children of color, whose understanding of their own people’s history as well as their lived experiences are often negated by the need to whitewash many harsh truths.
The world is filled with acts of violence and hatred, perpetuated both by individuals and nations; children know this all too well, and they learn it early in so many different ways. Given today’s climate, many children are taught to manage “lockdown” drills to deal with armed assailants; how is it that they could not handle historical truths? And what do we teach our children when we train them to uphold known falsehoods? Even very young children are able to observe when we act unjustly or harshly, even as we teach them to “share” and “be nice.” We as a nation have acted, and in some respects continue to act in ways that are anything but nice. Will it really hurt children to become acculturated to a true understanding of our country’s history?