American school history books started lying to students before the turn of the 21st century. The methodology is to omit the truth and put a spin on the facts. Now the history learned in middle and high school where I sub is a farce. Does anyone think the kids don’t realize this?

Falsifying history is a primary reason for their rebellious spirit. In 2008, I lectured to a ‘challenged’ class of mostly black students where the lesson plan was on the slave ships from Africa to America. I looked over the oak podium at the sleepy audience of fetal syndromes, hulking football players, and single moms, and gave myself thirty seconds to preview the text on what the regular teacher had assigned me to read to them. It was wretched.

I slammed the book shut. It awakened them, as it flew across the room and slid across the teacher’s desk. ‘This is what really happened…’

I detailed the horrors of the jungle capture, ship deaths, auctions, cotton fields, Underground Railroad, Booker T. Washington (‘I was born a slave on a plantation. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date or my birth…’) to a crescendo finale for the class,  ‘So don’t Lord over us people with white bark that you are better than us!’

You see,’ I added gently. ‘Only the strong survived the slave trade, and that’s why America owns the most talented African-American athletes and politicians.

’A senior girl in the back row held up her hand, weeping.  ‘But (sob),’ Mr. Keeley, ‘How do you do your wash?’

Aha! SHE was the last student at the Blythe, Ca. High School of about 400 whom I HAD not won over. The day before, she had put bubblegum on a bleacher a second before I sat down. When I did sit, she piped, ‘You ain’t no James Dean ridin’ around campus on your ol’ motorcycle!’  When I arose to answer, of course, I stuck. Everyone had laughed.

Now the no longer challenged class was laughing – with me.