History and How It’s Told

In the Filipino American community, there is a saying that many are familiar with: “No history, no self. Know history, know self.” It seems appropriate that this phrase comes to mind today, on the last day of Filipino American History Month. At the same time, it also feels well-timed in the matters of the election that’s now a mere three days away.

I touched on a similar subject matter a year ago, but now I dissect it in broader terms. We were all raised learning history; whether that be family history, the history of our town, the history of our country, etc. However, how it is told is what makes all the difference in the long run. Why did we learn about the California missions in the fourth grade when it came with removing Indigenous people from their communities and converting them to a belief system that isn’t theirs? Why is it that we mainly know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his “I Have a Dream” speech when he did so much more than that? How come I never heard of Asian American activists like Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs until I was an adult? Why is that we can recognize the horrors committed by the Holocaust but not realize that colonizers of this country did the exact same thing and then some?

I’d like to think that mentally we’re in a place now where we’re coming to terms with the biased lens this history was taught to us and we’re more aware of how there’s a lot more to the histories than what was otherwise made available to us. I’m fortunate to be in a part of the country where several cities recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. I’m unimpressed with the reality of how my history textbooks with devote a paragraph or two about how World War II impacted the Philippines, and yet a whole chapter is dedicated to how the war impacted Europe. I’m so sick of people in this country accusing immigrants for causing all the problems, when the fact of the matter is that it’s American-born white people who are the primary blame.

We recognize the history and see how it’s echoing now – and how we have the power to change that if we all band together the next few days. Why continue to let history to repeat by a man who technically never won the popular election in the first place? It says something when I can honestly consider myself afraid, not by ghosts and monsters on this Halloween, but by what could potentially happen if Biden doesn’t win.

Yes, this is basically a long way of me encouraging people to vote, but I cannot emphasize enough that you do. Lives are literally at stake. Families are being ripped apart. People are at risk of having their rights taken away. Protections for the environment are continuously being tossed aside for truly stupid excuses.

We absolutely should know better by now, and for those that truly do, why not demonstrate that by giving it your all on a ballot? Like that long repeated lyric from the musical “Hamilton,” “History has its eyes on you.” How do you want to be a part of history that’s being created right now?


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