The lack of inclusion in history for American and European curriculum is not just a coincidence but a deliberate act. Tonight’s lecture not only touched on the ways we as American not only forget the past but complete avoid parts of our past. This problem of holding a very eurocentric view of history is not a thing of recent times or even of past times, it has always and will continue to always be a problem until we as Americans confront the issue and demand more.
The Haitian Revolution of 1791, a revolution that lasted twelve years, can and should be considered the first fight for total equality and anti-colonialism in the world. Over one hundred and fifty years before the anti-colonial era following World War II, I would argue Haiti was the first country to truly adhere to and attempt to obtain the ideals of liberty and equality. Unlike the United States and France who promoted ideals of liberty and equality, Haiti was a slave insurrection that attempted to implement these ideas once it gained its independence, giving equal status to its citizens years before either states even abolished slavery.
With that said, why do we as a nation seem to brush this revolution off as some sort of blip in the historical timeline? Professor Popkin notes that in just a common interest sense, most people who search the event are African American and that most white people ignore or are simply not interested. Whether this is rooted in some inherently racial ideas, doubtful, but I would argue that this lack of interest stems from the notion of history ingrained in our heads from childhood that the only type of history that matters is that which concerns white lives and bodies. You would be hard pressed to learn about the wonders of Native American cultures and wars, African contributions to thought in our conception of government, and surely not the contributions of people of color to the technological and philosophical advancement of Europe during the enlightenment- it just does not happen.
In this white washing, Professor Popkin is trying to create a new narrative. One that includes the Haitian Revolution as one that is apart of the lineage of democratic ideals and the foundation of the dissemination of democratic principles throughout both the western world and easter world, from the Caribbean and France all the way to Southeast Asia. Further it also contributed to the ways both the French and Americans considered the issue of race and the notion of inferiority as the Haitian Revolution both dispelled the myth of inferiority and made leaders think heavily on the animosities created by racial divides and possibility of rebellion.