Professor Popkin’s main point of emphasis of his lecture on the Haitian Revolution was the lack of knowledge and coverage it gets in American society and education institutions. While this is true and unfortunate, his other focal point was the lack of documentation and accurate information of the Haitian Revolution available. These two restrictions, in my opinion, are not ideal, but are causes of one another and cannot be so harshly blamed on certain people, as Professor Popkin suggested. It is because there was poor documentation that there is limited knowledge of the events, and therefore, rare teachings of the revolution. I am sure that Professor Popkin was to some extent correct in claiming that racial bias played into these effects, but it is certainly not the only and probably not the main reason why we know little about the Haitian revolution.
Hierarchy of politics of power most definitely influences what people are told is important. This includes the country they are in and the relevancy of historical events to that country, political powers across the world depicting which countries’ histories are most important, and what Professor Popkin mentioned, power dynamics among races and demographics. History classes in America focus on American history. I would argue this is the case for most countries too, that their historical knowledge reflects their country’s history. So, in comparison to all the historical events that have been drilled into the minds of Americans, how relevant was the Haitian revolution to those Americans’ lives today and to America today? I would say, not so relevant. Then there is the sheer fact that the United States has far more power and importance in global politics than Haiti, therefore, is it not reasonable for the States’ history to also overpower Haiti’s history?
There is also limited documentation and knowledge available on the exact details of the Haitian Revolution. Basically no one documented the events at the time, and frankly, outsiders also did not seem interested in recording the revolution or even trying to learn about it until recently. Most of the information is derived from oral recounts through generations and generations, and the reality has most likely been integrated with cultural myths. Therefore, there is no way of determining what is true and what is not, so how could we confidently educate a whole population on an historical event that may or may not contain mythologies? It is incredibly unfortunate and sad that the historical understanding of the Haitian Revolution is as unclear as it is and that many people are unaware of the event, but that is the way it is, and at this point, there is not point blaming people and not recognizing why it is that we are uneducated on it. There is no doubt that I am ignorant of numerous historical accounts around the world and there is reason for why I prioritize the history I do know.