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History's Marginalized People


I applaud the people of TRUTH at Boston College who are banding together to put an end to hate and racism.


But as I read the article (Oct. 19) in The Heights titled "Hundreds rally against racism on campus," I was a bit perplexed by the proposed solution to the problem of racism. According to many quoted in the article, to root out racism we must change the history core taught at Boston College, which promotes, as Omolara Bewaji says, "the white male European understanding of the world." Instead, says Katrina King, if the "the history of marginalized people" were taught, then "hate crimes would not be as prevalent."

So what is the "white male understanding of the world," and how would "the history of marginalized people" be different?

I think I agree with the proposal: We indeed should be teaching the history of marginalized people. And indeed this will probably lead to a reduction of hate crimes. So I offer a provisional list of topics and questions to be included in such a course.

  1. History of Christians during the time of Diocletian and Nero;
  2. History of Monasteries during the dark ages;
  3. History of Muslims in the Middle East during the Crusades;
  4. History of Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule, both in the past and today;
  5. History of Catholics under Elizabeth I;
  6. History of Huguenots in France;
  7. History of non-Muslims in Spain during the six centuries before 1492, and of Muslims in Spain after 1492;
  8. History of Protestants in Catholic countries before and after the Reformation, before and after Henry VIII's excommunication to include John Hus, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Tewkesbury, Richard Bayfield, William Tyndale, and Ulrich Zwingli;
  9. History of priests during French Revolution;
  10. History of the Irish under British rule;
  11. History of Jesuits living among the American Indians, to include Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf;
  12. History of American Indians before arrival of Europeans, and how tribes in power dealt with marginalized, weaker tribes;
  13. History of black people in the United States pre-and post-Civil War;
  14. History of gypsies — where did they thrive, where were they persecuted?;
  15. History of dissent within Soviet Russia to include: Natan Scharansky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn;
  16. Catholics in Poland under Soviet Rule, to include Cardinal Wyszinsky, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, and others;
  17. Christians in Vietnam and China today and in Cambodia under Pol Pot.;
  18. Communists under rule of Alexander II, Napoleon Duarte, Somoza, Batista, or Franco;
  19. Nazis under Weimar Republic;
  20. Jews, Catholics, Gypsies, and homosexuals under the Nazis;
  21. Blacks in South Africa under Apartheid, to include Nelson Mandela;
  22. Christians in China today and in the time of Mao;
  23. Christians in Sudan;
  24. Jews living in Europe in the 19th century or in Germany and Poland in the 1930s and 1940s;
  25. History of slavery examined and contrasted as found in Roman Empire, China, Aztec Empire, Africa, Latin America, and the United States;
  26. What civilization or country was the first to ban slavery? A country within Western civilization, or another one outside Western civilization?;
  27. Which civilizations outside of Western civilization have banned slavery? Where and at what point in their history? Where does slavery still exist?;
  28. What civilization, what countries, what constitutional guarantees have been the best for "marginalized peoples" living among a majority that was either indifferent or hostile to their marginalized peoples?

    And, closer to home, such a course would definitely need include:

  29. Republicans in Massachusetts today; and
  30. A survey of BC professors who are admirers of Pope Benedict.

How does this or any core history of marginalized peoples compare with the core history of Western Civilization? My guess is that the two cores would be and should cover most of the same topics.



Paul Keonen. "History's marginalized people." The Heights (October 23, 2006).

Reprinted with permission of The Heights.

The Heights is the independent newspaper serving the Boston College community, established in 1919.

The Author

Paul Keonen lives in Hingham, Mass.

Copyright © 2006 The Heights
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