Vice President Kamala Harris faced criticism this week for telling Guatemalans not to come to the US/Mexican border seeking entry without first following other pathways to citizenship. Whether or not we concur with the White House’s stance on undocumented people and conditions at the US/Mexican border, as historians we can agree that our students know more about the political mud-slinging that goes on in relation to immigration policy than they do about the countries that are the birthplaces of millions of people who desire economic opportunity and security here in the United States. I am acutely aware of the students’ frustration with this lack of knowledge because I teach at a community college with a large population of students whose families are from the Caribbean and Latin America. In most cases, the students themselves were either born in the United States or were brought to this country at such a young age that they do not remember the living conditions that led to their families’ migrations. Often they will say they know only that their families were “extremely poor” or that one or both of their parents sought political asylum in the United States. Family members, the students tell their professors, are often reluctant to discuss the conditions that led to the immensely difficult decision to leave their homeland. It’s time for us, as historians, to help these young people understand their families’ origin stories. At my college we hope to start this process by hiring an historian who can teach courses specifically related to Latin America and the Caribbean, while also helping us to create a more globally-based survey course. None of this may sound groundbreaking to those of you who teach at universities with dozens of fields of specialization. However, those who teach at community colleges across the United States have long faced the challenge of teaching outside of our fields of expertise so that we can offer as many courses as possible. For an increasingly diverse student population, we must do better. Consider, for example, that the American Association of Community Colleges reported in 2019 that approximately 41% of all undergraduates in the US are enrolled at community colleges. When we look at statistics for Native American, Hispanic, and Black college students those numbers increase to 56%, 53%, and 43% respectively. It’s well past time, then, for community colleges to commit to more diversity in their history curriculum and to offer content beyond the traditional US history and Western Civilization courses that have typically transferred seamlessly to four-year colleges. If students of color are taking their first college history courses at community colleges, those courses need to not only educate them about important historical events but also help them to see where they -- as people -- fit into the narrative of world history. For first-generation Americans and first-generation college students this need is especially great. To my fellow community college faculty, a question: what courses is your department offering outside of the traditional US and Western Civilization surveys? How have students responded to the offerings? Is enrollment strong or struggling? I’d love to hear from Macmillan Community faculty grappling with this important challenge.
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Macmillan Learning author Mia Bay joins Radio Times to discuss her book Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance. Bay sits down with the WHYY production team and tells the story of the rise in travel segregation and the fight for equality on the road and in courts.
Bay is also one of the three authors of the third edition of Freedom on My Mind, a narrative that follows African American’s quest for freedom as the central theme and situates that quest in the context of American history.
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To close out Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) Heritage Month, I’d thought it'd be great to highlight the contributions Asian Americans had made. Here are just some of the many that have contributed to American society:
Amanda Nguyen--Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for creating the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Act of 2016 which guarantees survivors a rape kit at no cost, and requires all kits to be preserved for 20 years¹.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu--Played a key role in doing research for the Manhattan Project and for contributing to the physics, biology, and medicine field².
Wong Kim Ark--Famous for challenging the United States in the case, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, Wong Kim Ark helped establish the 14th Amendment which guarantee all people born in the United States citizenship³.
Larry Itliong--Organized the Delano Grape Strike in 1965 which would eventually lead to the creation of the United Farm Workers⁴ .
1. Yuko, Elizabeth. “8 Groundbreaking Contributions by Asian Americans Through History.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, March 31, 2021. https://www.history.com/news/asian-american-inventions-contributions.
2. “Strength in Diversity – Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.” Energy.gov. Accessed May 28, 2021. https://www.energy.gov/articles/strength-diversity-celebrating-asian-american-pacific-islander-heritage-month.
3. “CAPAC Marks Anniversary of Pivotal Supreme Court Ruling on Citizenship.” CAPAC Marks Anniversary of Pivotal Supreme Court Ruling on Citizenship | Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). CAPAC. Accessed May 28, 2021. https://capac-chu.house.gov/press-release/capac-marks-anniversary-pivotal-supreme-court-ruling-citizenship.
4. “10 Influential Asian American and Pacific Islander Activists.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, May 11, 2021. https://www.biography.com/news/asian-american-pacific-islander-activists.
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This past semester a kind of remote-learning fatigue seemed to set in amongst my students. Coupled with my own remote-teaching fatigue, final projects were less ambitious than in previous years and took me much longer to grade. I’ve decided that summer is a good time for a reboot of the semester-long research project to re-energize my instruction and help students to focus on the quality of each individual part of their research project. I’m teaching a six-week intensive Black History course this summer and instead of assigning the research project at the start and then waiting to see the results at the end of the session, I’m breaking the assignment into four parts that will be submitted separately. The goal of the project is for students to research an aspect of Black History that we will not cover in detail as a class but relates directly to the larger themes and content. Together the four parts will comprise a research project, but students will be graded on each individual section as it is completed rather than on one document at the course’s end. Here is my work-in-progress plan for what will be submitted in each part of the project during the six-week course: Part One (due Week Two) Topic with thesis statement and defined parameters. Example: a study of the life/work of Martin Luther King, Jr., would be too broad for this project but a study of the significance of MLK’s work in Montgomery in 1955 or Birmingham in 1963 would work well. Draft Works Cited: three secondary sources in MLA format. Sources will be articles retrieved from College Library’s databases; students will receive support from a reference librarian. Part Two (due Week Three) In 2-3 detailed paragraphs, explain the who/what/where/when/how of the topic. Use in-text citations (MLA format) to identify sources used. Part Three (due Week Four) Three annotated primary sources providing examples to support information presented in Part Two and illustrate key aspects of the topic. Examples: images of subject/events, newspaper/magazine articles from period, segments of speeches/letters/writings from period. Each source should have a 1-2 sentence annotation to explain its relevance to the topic. Primary sources may come from academic databases or from the general web. Sources must be cited in MLA format. Part Four (due Week Five) Two paragraph conclusion that addresses historical significance Where does the topic fit within the wider framework of our course? What was the long-term impact of the topic on the history of the era we are studying? Final version of Works Cited page It is my hope that by deconstructing this research assignment my students will experience the value of producing quality components that together create a well thought-out project. I would love to hear from anyone who has tried this kind of piece-by-piece assignment and whether they were satisfied with the results. Any pitfalls I need to be prepared for? Suggestions welcome!
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Last week in his blog post “History of Violence in the Chinese Community ” my Macmillan Community colleague Steven Huang emphasized the importance of studying the historical origins of the anti-Asian violence that we have seen dramatically increase since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In particular, Steven encourages us to listen to the voices of Asian-American people across the United States as we search for a more comprehensive approach to anti-racism. I’ve been particularly struck by the increased media attention on anti-Asian violence because so many of the students at the community college where I teach identify as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI). In my US History II survey class we study the nineteenth-century origins of anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese sentiment in the western part of the United States. Students in the course have researched Angel Island and Japanese Picture Brides for their independent projects, and the centerpiece of our discussion of World War II is the internment of people of Japanese descent from 1942-1945. And yet, there is so much more that we could/should be covering to gain a more complete picture of the history of AAPI people in the United States. It stands to reason, then, that many of us who teach US history need to increase the presence of AAPI in our survey courses. Here are some web-based resources that I have found useful: A great place to start the search for new material to share with students is Elizabeth Kleinrock’s article “After Atlanta: Teaching About Asian American Identity and History” ( Learning for Justice, 17 March 2021). “ I can’t change the past...” Kleinrock writes, “But what I can do in this moment is direct these emotions into action to take one step towards ensuring that no Asian child is called ‘Kung-flu’ by a classmate and that my students will not grow up to harass and attack people of Asian descent on the street.” Kleinrock shares the results from having surveyed her students about their knowledge of Asian Americans after the Atlanta attack, and then identifies materials that can help begin the conversation about AAPI history in the classroom. Numerous government historical repositories including the Library of Congress and the National Archives are hosting a joint web site for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month . In addition to finding links to videos from the Smithsonian’s historical collections, teachers and students can access numerous primary sources and lesson plans on such topics as the annexation of Hawaii, immigration, and exclusion. The University of Southern California library system has developed an extensive digital finding aid for primary sources related to AAPI . In addition to print sources and dozens of photographs, the site contains images of artifacts found as the result of archeological digs in California. Students will be fascinated to see the items retrieved from the site of a former Chinese laundry (circa 1880-1933), among other interesting pieces of social and cultural history. Any conversation about the history of immigration to the United States is incomplete without discussion of Angel Island, the Pacific Coast’s point of entry from 1910 to 1940. It has been my experience that the majority of college students have no idea that immigrants entered the country through any place but Ellis Island (New York). The Angel Island Immigration Foundation site documents a period when people from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, South America, Russia, Asia and the Pacific Islands sought entry to the United States through the island off of San Francisco. Immigration restrictions placed on people of Asian descent made the process extremely complex and stressful in these years, and Angel Island served as a location at which authorities could separate the immigrants by nationality to prevent the entry of “excluded” people. A simple Google search for AAPI-related historical materials will lead to many more open resources -- what I’m offering in this blog is merely a starting point. It is critical that we convey to students that any discussion of race/racism must include the challenges faced by the AAPI communities throughout our national history. The willingness to include these groups in our course curriculum is a great way to start students on the path to deeper understanding.
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Violence towards the AAPI community isn’t something new. A few weeks ago, members of the Chinese community gathered and rallied in protest of anti-Asian violence and racism in response to the shootings in Georgia and in response to the harmful language aimed towards members of the community. As an Asian American, it's heartbreaking--and that's putting it lightly--to constantly hear about the attacks that have been happening since last year. With increased news coverage on the AAPI community, I think that that it's important to know that this has happened before.
There are three famous incidents that I know of that is significant to Chinese American history:
Rock Springs Massacre in 1885.
Chinese Massacre in 1871
The murder of Vincent Chin
The Rock Springs Massacre in 1885: White coal miners in Wyoming, protest their employers hiring Chinese laborers because it would be cheaper for them to do so, then attack them which results in 28 Chinese people being killed, 15 injured¹.
Chinese Massacre in 1871: With the death of a community member during a shootout between a group of Chinese people, around 500 mobsters dragged the people who were involved in the altercation and hung them--killing 17 Chinese people, 10% of the Chinese population in LA at that time was wiped out in a single day².
The murder of Vincent Chin-- Vincent Chin, who was mistaken for a Japanese man, was killed by two auto workers who had blamed him for losing their jobs in the automotive industry³. There is so so much that had happened during and after the court case that can be better explained by reading the article below.
I bring up these three incidents to highlight the similarities between what happened then and now: all three cases of violence stemmed from racism and xenophobia which is then further amplified when demagogues are given a soapbox to make derogatory comments much akin to what’s been happening in the past year. Much of this is new to the people outside of the AAPI community, but for people like me, this is something that has been going on for all of my life and I feel like it’s something that has been overlooked time after time. I believe that making a difference, being an anti-racist, starts with listening to what people have to say: every community has their story and it’s vital for all of us to make an effort to educate ourselves on what’s going on and to take what they have to say seriously. Instead of offering solutions that you think are helpful, listen to what community members have to say.
“Chinese Miners Are Massacred in Wyoming Territory,” November 16, 2009. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/whites-massacre-chinese-in-wyoming-territory.
Forgotten Los Angeles History: The Chinese Massacre of 1871. Accessed April 30, 2021. https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/chinese-massacre-1871.
Little, Becky. “How the 1982 Murder of Vincent Chin Ignited a Push for Asian American Rights.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, May 5, 2020. https://www.history.com/news/vincent-chin-murder-asian-american-rights.
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As a historian, I’m thinking a lot lately about when the “era of 2020” will begin and end within the US survey. In addition to the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic (social, political, and economic factors) will be center stage for any discussion of the historical events of 2020. In US history classes there will undoubtedly be coverage of the efforts of Black Lives Matter and other civil rights organizations to draw attention to systemic racism after a series of high-profile murders of African Americans during the year. With this week’s conviction of Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, I’m cautiously hopeful that historians of the future will be able to offer students 2021 as a pivot in the American narrative. Perhaps at some point in the future, this week’s verdict in Minnesota will be a marker. Those of us who teach US history have no shortage of examples of times in our national past when the government or the courts have been on the wrong side of history. On April 20, 2021, however, we as a nation watched as a jury of our peers unanimously voted to convict a man of brutal crimes, and for many of our students there is hope in that jury’s decision. Future historians will be looking at the period in which we currently live for evidence of how the nation responded to the verdict. This moment offers us a unique opportunity to reflect upon the events of the last thirteen months while encouraging students to be part of the historical record. Ask your students to write a letter or journal entry responding to the Chauvin conviction. Guide their writing with some historically relevant questions: Identify yourself; categories such as age, gender, race, and level of education will be helpful to historians reading your writing in years to come. When do you recall first learning about the death of George Floyd? What media sources did you rely upon for information? Did you feel confident that you could trust these sources? Why/why not? Did you attend any events related to social justice issues during 2020? If so, where/when? Did you follow the public debate about police reform? Did you see any specific changes take place in your community related to the subject? Did your friends/family discuss/follow the case? How would you characterize the conversations about race and policing that took place around you? How did you/your community respond to the verdict? Finally, ask your students to think about bias. Did the knowledge that future generations might read their reflections of the Chauvin conviction influence what they wrote? How? Assigning this responsive writing as an extra-credit or low-stakes assignment provides students the opportunity to be reflective while also documenting perspectives in this historic time. Brainstorm with the students how best to preserve their writings. As someone who loves archival research, I would be partial to donating paper copies of the students’ work to archive at my college. Students who feel less inclined to share their views, however, might embrace the idea of sealing their essay in an envelope and stashing it away somewhere for safe keeping. Even those who chose not to share their work as part of an archive donation will no doubt be interested in revisiting their 2021-perspective later in life.
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Often lauded for her performance as an actress and as the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong, born in 1903 in Chinatown, Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese American parents. At a young age, she always wanted to be an actress and at the age of 17, she landed the lead role in the first film in technicolor: The Toll of the Sea ¹ . Despite all of the luster and praise for her performance, she was still ridiculed for her looks and struggled to find roles that weren't harmful or stereotypical² . She wasn't always successful--she had taken on roles that portrayed Asian women in a negative light: often portrayed as "passive young women" or "Dragon Ladies--murderous villainess" ² . Unfortunately, these damaging caricatures and stereotypes proliferated well into my own childhood: the Fu Manchu villain with the curly long mustache wearing a queue hairstyle; a dragon lady, an Asian woman who is dangerous, alluring, and conniving; and of course the one that props up over and over again: that we all know martial arts.
I was inspired to write this blog and chose today’s topic about Asian representation in the media after Chloe Zhao made headlines for being the first Asian woman ever to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Director for her film, Nomadland . This is a big win for Asian Americans and I am sure that Anna May Wong would be ecstatic to see how far we have come as a society--to see people like her be able to win such a prestigious award is a sign that times are changing for the better. But, I believe that there is still a lot of work to do. While I am overjoyed about her win, I have a few lingering questions: Why did it take this long for an Asian woman director to win this award despite there being 77 other Golden Globe Awards prior to this? Not only that, why is Minari, a film about a Korean family in America, considered a foreign language film? Yes, according to the rules , a film with at least 51% foreign language is placed in this category³. But Minari is an American story: in essence, it represents the immigrant family experience and the truth that many kids who moved to this country didn't grow up speaking English, they spoke their parent's native tongue. This doesn't make them any less American and in precluding them from the Best Motion Picture - Drama category, it raises a sentiment that I and many others have known all too well: that we aren't Americans, we will always be associated with Otherness. Creating such a rigid arbitrary rule where substance comes second speaks volumes on how unfair this system is.
And while there won't be any Fu Manchu, Dragon Lady-type characters any time soon (hopefully), I feel like we are replacing old outdated stereotypes with a more polished, newer, "positive" stereotype: that all Asians are wealthy and live a life of luxury and excess. With shows and movies like Crazy Rich Asians, House of Ho, and Netflix's new reality tv show Bling Empire , it indulges people in the successes Asians have had while continuing to gloss over a truth that many people don't know about or have swept under: that Asian Americans continue to have the largest income disparities between the lowest paid earners and the highest paid earners than any other group⁴. While this is definitely a turning point in Hollywood media, I think there needs to be more grounded characters that highlight the nuances on what it means to be Asian in America.
1. Alexander, Kerri Lee. “Anna May Wong.” National Women's History Museum. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/anna-may-wong.
2.New York Historical Society. “Anna May Wong (1905-1961).” Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion, New York Historical Society, 29 Oct. 2014, chineseamerican.nyhistory.org/anna-may-wong-1905-1961/.
3. Golden Globes. "Entry form: Foreign films." (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://www.goldenglobes.com/entry-form-foreign-films
4. Kochhar, Rakesh, and Anthony Cilluffo. “Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Rising Most Rapidly Among Asians.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project. Pew Research Center, August 21, 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2018/07/12/income-inequality-in-the-u-s-is-rising-most-rapidly-among-asians/.
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Crisis in Context: Teaching American History Virtually From Past To Present
Americans are presently enduring at least five overlapping crises: political representation; racial justice; public health; economic crisis due to the pandemic; and the climate crisis.
American history scholars and Macmillan authors Rebecca Edwards, Eric Hinderaker, and Robert Self explore American crises throughout our nation's history, raising questions like: What have other moments of political, economic, and epidemiological crisis looked like? How did we get here? Utilizing historical context to make sense of these "unprecedented times," our panelists discuss these questions and pedagogical techniques to help students learn remotely.
Watch the full webinar here.
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I was asked at least twice during the month of March to explain “the point” of studying women’s history. How, the first well-meaning person questioned, does taking a class that examines US history from the lens of women’s lives differ from taking general US history? In the second conversation a student questioned why I believe that US Women’s History is an important course for Economics majors to take: “If it’s so important, why doesn’t my Economics program require it?” My pet peeve about the “months” approach to celebrating history (February = Black History, March = Women, etc) is that for a few short weeks topics that I view as important in every history class suddenly take center stage. But when the month ends, more often than not, the traditional narrative resumes. I’ve written before in this space about the necessity of diversifying the US survey. As much as we see amazing work being done by historians on an array of diverse topics, students still regularly share with me that in their US history classes they meet African Americans in the larger narrative in only two places: during the Civil War and the post-World War II civil rights movement. Women appear amidst a discussion of the 19th amendment and “flappers,” only to disappear and then return to the narrative as goddesses of white domesticity in the 1950s. In 2021 we have to do better. This week, then, I’d like to draw our Macmillan Community members’ attention to the New York Historical Society’s work-in-progress web site that shares an open access women’s history curriculum that can help even the most novice historian to incorporate women into their classroom narrative. Women & the American Story ( WAMS) presents material in units that include images, suggested lecture and discussion topics, and lists of key themes and questions, in addition to background materials. Historian Allyson Schettino describes the WAMS curriculum this month in an article titled “Where are the Women: Promoting Inclusions in Survey History Courses” in The American Historian, a publication of the Organization of American Historians. Schettino writes, “ Through WAMS, we seek to make the history taught in our classrooms more representative, accurate, and engaging. When more students see themselves reflected in the social studies curriculum, they recognize their own agency. When students see a broader range of experiences represented in the narrative of the American past, they learn to value diversity and appreciate difference. Both strengthen our democracy.” I’m excited to see the New York Historical Society's work in women's history continue and to incorporate some of their open-access materials into my fall courses. As we prepare for the 2021-22 academic year I would love to share more projects like WAMS that are offering free resources to academics with the goal of increasing diversity. If you are working on a web site or other similar project that you would like to share, please contact me and let’s spread the word!
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We're thrilled to see Macmillan Learning's Freedom On My Mind author Mia Bay's anticipated Traveling Black book make its New York Times debut in the Books of the Times section and in the Boston Globe. "...the question of literal movement becomes a way to understand the civil rights movement ..." Click the links above to learn about Bay's analysis of the history of mobility & resistance during the Civil Rights era.
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It shouldn’t go unnoticed that as millions of people across the United States were being vaccinated against COVID-19 last week, jury selection was concluding in the criminal case against Derek Chauvin, the police officer accused of murdering George Floyd in May 2020. Two of the most significant news stories of 2020 continue to captivate the public's attention in 2021. No doubt in years to come history textbooks will chronicle the events of 2020 as reflections of each other: the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis; the horrific deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd; the historic election that put into office the first female vice president. Future historians will be asked to measure the impact of each of these touchstones in our national history as these events will forever be connected in the historical narrative and the public’s collective memory. This week, therefore, I’m asking my students to identify aspects of American life that they believe have permanently changed as a result of these national and international events. I’ve created an optional discussion board (extra credit) for students to reflect on the past twelve months. In particular, I want students to evaluate what they perceive as the pace of or lack of change. A point of context for this discussion: in women’s history classes we examine the dramatic shift in employment from service areas to the defense industry experienced by American women during the two world wars. In 1917 and 1942, for example, millions of women saw their work lives change dramatically with higher wages and better opportunities. The post-war periods, however, saw those same working-women struggle to maintain the economic gains they had made during the war years. Ultimately most returned to low-paying jobs. In other words, short-term change came and went quickly. Long-term change is still a work in progress. I’m hopeful that this no-stakes assignment will provide the students with an opportunity to share observations and insights about the past twelve months across their diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. I plan to leave the discussion board open for several weeks so that students have time to consider each other’s perspectives and contribute thoughtful responses. I’d love to hear from other faculty seeking ways to help students to grapple with the events of 2020.
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Attending OAH ‘21? We’d love to “see” you there! Macmillan Learning will have a virtual booth where we’ll have info on new offerings (print and digital), on-demand videos, a chance to win prizes, and more!
Macmillan Learning Speakers Include:
Mia Bay (Freedom on My Mind Author)
Fitz Brundage (Bedford Series Author)
David Blight (Bedford Series Author)
Ernesto Chavez (Bedford Series Author)
Kathi Kern (Bedford Document Collection Author)
Stephen Mihm (Bedford Series Author)
Kevin Mumfort (forthcoming Bedford Document Collection Author)
Elizabeth Shermer (forthcoming Bedford Document Collection Author)
Request an exam copy:
Learn More about OAH: https://www.oah.org/
Watch our latest webinar: Crisis in Context: Teaching American History Virtually From Past To Present
Macmillan History: We've Got You Covered!
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The controversy surrounding six of Theodor Geisel’s books that will no longer be published or licensed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises has led several of my former students to reach out and reflect upon the brief time we spent studying the illustrator’s World War II-era cartoons. Every semester my US History II students use the digital collection Dr. Seuss Went to War as part of our discussion of race on the home front. In light of the current debate, Geisel’s war-time cartoons offer a hands-on way for students to examine the artist’s controversial works without directly having to access the six books in question. More importantly, the cartoons create an opportunity for reflection on how depictions of people of color in popular culture have changed over the course of our national history and the evolution of what we as a society deem “acceptable.” When studying the World War II-era cartoons, I ask students to think about how a person of Japanese heritage might have responded to Geisel’s stereotypical renderings of Japanese leaders. Year after year, my students consistently cite Geisel’s depiction of legions of Japanese-Americans lining the Pacific coastline to receive their share of dynamite in “Waiting for the Signal from Home” (February 1942) as problematic: a group of people, the vast majority of which were US citizens who expressed no support of a Japanese invasion of the United States, were portrayed as willing participants in a possible attack on the nation. How, the students ask, could people of Japanese descent counter accusations of sedition and treason in a climate in which the mainstream media depicted them as guilty? In a piece for The Atlantic titled “In Our House Dr. Seuss Was Contraband,” (March 2021) Michael Harriot describes his African-American mother’s disdain for Seuss’s depiction of people of color as the primary reason why his books were not allowed in Harriot’s childhood home in the 1970s. “I assumed most people knew that Seuss, despite the support he expressed for civil rights, was capable of depicting human beings of other races in demeaning ways,” Harriot writes. “Painting Seuss as a victim of rabid ‘wokeness’ is like saying police brutality is a recent epidemic that began when people started uploading cellphone footage.” Harriot’s piece ends with a cautionary note: “The issue matters because the images children see and the words they hear are small but important parts of the person they eventually become.” Recognizing the errors of our national past does not erase or “cancel” them, but instead opens the proverbial door to deeper dialogue and greater understanding. As historians, it is our job to help our students embrace the collective walk through that open door.
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