The 1619 Project

This is for people wishing to discuss the 1619 project, for reading materials with all NY times related essays can be found in the following pdf.


It’s funny that in discussions of education, it’s always about white people. Teach white people that they’re racist. Teach white people about black history.

Isn’t this a bit…racist? What about African-Americans and how they relate to their history?

For instance, how many of them know about the history of their ancestors in West Africa, which had a great empire and one of the world’s wealthiest emperors?

Instead of teaching African-Americans that their history began in slavery, and that their destiny is victimhood, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to teach them about their amazing cultural legacy?

These discussions are about how we teach American history, so… no.

It’s also not about telling white people they’re racist, or that black peoples’ destiny is victimhood. Seriously, give it a read.


The first slave ship arrived in Virginia in 1619. The last one arrived in 1859-1860. For more than 200 years, people from West Africa came to the United States against their will.

Do you think they arrived with empty minds and hearts? Of course not. They brought their knowledge and culture. Knowledge and culture from West Africa.

Do you know how much this has influenced what we today claim as “American” culture? Language, music, dance, art, food. You can trace many aspects of “American” culture to the cultures of the slaves who came from West Africa.

The fact that you don’t even realize that so much of what you consider “American” culture traces its origins to West Africa shows how much the American education system has shortchanged Americans of all backgrounds.


That’s a bit of a pivot from what it appeared you were suggesting.


How so?

The American education system effectively teaches African-Americans that their history begins in slavery. It totally cuts them off from their African roots.

Imagine if we taught Chinese Americans that their history began in California in the 19th century? Or American Jews that their history began on Ellis Island?

No, it doesn’t suggest teaching that. Seriously, go read the mofo.

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“anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country”
– Nikole Hannah-Jones

If someone claimed that “poverty runs in the very DNA of Africa” would that be racist?

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Depends on the context I suppose, although that statement seems much less likely to make sense in context to me. But give me a try and provide me some context for such a statement.

The context is the author of the 1619 project claiming that racism runs in the DNA of white Americans.

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I actually read the first essay which that quote is mentioned, it seems to go over a history of what African Americans have experienced and I believe is pretty accurate, it’s a long essay and Im sure there will be objections.

As I recall that phrase was brought up after laws were made that would move towards the founding principles of freedom and equality for all and yet the south entered a second stage of oppression for many years the explanation at least in part was the racism was embedded so deeply within the nation it was a part of who they were at that time.

It’s not suggesting racism is in the DNA of white people. But doesn’t paint a pretty picture of how white people have treated African Americans over time, nor should it.

Truth doesn’t have an agenda.


You’re losing your own thread man - that’s not what you asked about, and hence not what I answered a question to.

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That’s not true. It teaches about their African roots as well. Where are you getting this?

Can I see where you are quoting from? I kind of doubt that’s how it’s phrased in the text. The quote–you posted it— says “Racism runs deep in the DNA of this country”. You have substituted ‘white Americans’ for ‘this country’. Why?

The quote is accurate (enough), context is important. But good point about him trying to twist it anyway. :wink:

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@QuaSaShao: “The 1619 project is a racist conspiracy theory”

In what way is it a conspiracy theory?

" whose key tenet is that racism is in the DNA of white people"

That’s not what the author of the project said

“and their only hope for redemption is to admit that they’re morally inferior and submit to a lifetime of atonement.”

at best a cynical strawman type argument (if intentional), otherwise simply a misreading.

“This supposedly is a radical solution which will finally expunge systemic racism from American society.”

Is the idea of putting African Americans central in American history and celebrating their accomplishments radical?

Sadly, it instead merely perpetuates racism by reinforcing its key notion that the content of one’s character is determined by the color of their skin.

again, this is nowhere to be found in the text.

I skimmed it. There’s a small section that pays lip service to the contributions of African and African-American culture to American culture, but much of the rest just looks like ideological stuff. It paints an us-them narrative and even though it appears that the creators want to take a hard, honest look at parts of history that are uncomfortable, it doesn’t even begin to touch a number of important yet inconvenient facts.

I mean, how can you discuss the history of slavery in America if you don’t even look at the history of slavery itself. Shouldn’t students have an historically accurate context in which to understand what happened?

If it’s the DNA, there’s nothing you can do. What do you do? Alter your DNA?”

Hannah-Jones’s contention that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country” drew a rebuke from James Oakes, one of the Wilentz letter’s signatories. In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site , Oakes said, “The function of those tropes is to deny change over time … The worst thing about it is that it leads to political paralysis. It’s always been here. There’s nothing we can do to get out of it. If it’s the DNA, there’s nothing you can do. What do you do? Alter your DNA?”


I always find stuff like this interesting:

Most Americans still learn very little about the lives of the enslaved, or how the struggle over slavery shaped a young nation. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that few American high-school students know that slavery was the cause of the Civil War, that the Constitution protected slavery without explicitly mentioning it, or that ending slavery required a constitutional amendment.

Studies have shown that large percentages of Americans can’t even name prominent current political figures, such as the VP, or a single justice on the Supreme Court.

That’s apparently why we have to dumb it down. If you’re white, you just have to remember that racism is in your DNA. If you’re black, you just have to remember that you’re always going to be disadvantaged because racism is in the DNA of white people.