Why History Is Important

Women protesting with signs about freedom and equality

As a 17-year-old living in the cusp of protest, revolution and change, I am very proud and passionate about the BLM movement and trying to reform the police system in America. While many call them “riots” and discourage them because of violence, it’s important to look at the suffrage movement and its supporters who:

  • smashed windows
  • chained themselves to railings
  • planted bombs
  • slashed paintings

All to get their word across after constantly being demeaned by the government and the public because of their want to get the vote.

While obviously violence is the last resort and peaceful protesting should always be the way to go, sometimes the higher ups will not listen until you stir something up. Even worse you get attacked for peaceful protesting or denied services and you have to defend yourself. This topic is one of the reasons why I love history, and feel that people should learn about events that happened in the last century or so as history repeats itself. I’m sure that if they educated themselves on similar events they would be a lot more open-minded about the movement.

History and Culture

In general, history has allowed us to understand different cultures and how they react to topics like gender and sexuality. While most people in the western world like to think that gender is binary and biological, that is not the case. Not only would that be against the original coiners (John Money’s) description of gender identity, which is something more related to your feelings, but it completely disregards other cultures interpretation of gender where there are more than two. An example of this is in Native American culture where two spirits were people who combined both male and female activities in their tribe and took specialised roles such as being a shaman or healer. In some tribes the male and female two spirits are different, making there a fourth gender in their tribe, and two spirits commonly formed relationships with non two spirit people of the same sex, another contentious topic in the post-colonial world.

Sexuality was also a lot more fluid in other cultures and even featured in many myths, the most well known being Apollo and Hyancinthus, a greek myth about the relationship between the Sun God Apollo and his male lover. Even Heracles was bisexual, having around 9 male lovers known in myths. 

There are so many different cultural interpretations of these topics that are not well known in the modern world which is the main reason I love history. It shows how factors like religion, locations and events can make one area of the map have a completely different worldview than the other. I really do think that if more people sat down with others who had different life experiences than them and talked, or even if more people were taught about these worldviews and events in school, our world would not be as divided.

History In The Classroom

This brings me to my biggest point, which is that classroom learning should teach more about different cultures and topics like homophobia, racism and transphobia. In many secondary schools, pupils are only taught the basic definitions of these topics but they never talk about recent examples or events. The Stonewall riots happened in 1969! If Marsha P Johnson, the Drag Queen who threw the first brick at police officers at Stonewall was still alive, she would only be 75 years old! The civil rights movement ended in 1968. This isn’t something that is old, this isn’t something that your great-great-grandparents saw.

This is something that was happening during the time of your grandparents, even maybe your mother and fathers! How are we going to learn if our newest generations keep thinking that this is all in the past and doesn’t happen anymore? One in five LGBT people experienced hate crimes due to their sexuality in the last 12 months, two in five trans people experiencing the same. This isn’t a thing of the past, and I feel if teachers taught about this in their history classes more people would be open-minded and ready to protest for change.

Over To You

After reading this, I implore you to look up a different culture’s history. Any at all. Pick the first one that comes to mind and see how their experiences and ideologies differ from yours. The more people have worldly knowledge about the people around them and how they can be more mindful and less hateful about something that other people cannot control, the more we will progress and truly become a perfect world.

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Published on: July 28, 2020

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