Teaching America (to foreigners) in the time of Black Oppression…

I’m not feeling America right now. I haven’t been for a while.

I’ve been teaching lessons on America, via English lessons to a student in China. It’s a whole unit about American culture. Which is all fine and good, I guess. I have some concerns about how they portray certain aspects of American culture—like how often we play football. But that is trivial compared to what is really bothering me.

My student is very bright and advanced for her level and I need to give her more information then what is laid out before me to teach.

I often use supplementary digital props that contain images of the American Flag and American monuments and what not.

And coming on the eve of the 4th of July… As a teacher for this organization, I feel obligated and compelled to teach American culture as it is relevant. (I’m actually kind of glad my class for the 4th was just canceled, so I can avoid this conversation with an older student.)

But these monuments, and images, and celebrations feel like a downright lie about our country.

America celebrates its independence and freedom while my people were still in chains. Fireworks are cool and all in general, but dang.

The American flag is supposed to be the pride and joy of America, but… All I see is racism, imperialism, colonialism, and slavery hiding behind bloodstained fabric.

And dang it, Mount Rushmore: A tribute to enslavers, rapists, and pedophiles, and my favorite, the “great emancipator,” and my “white savior.”

Can I keep it real with a six-year-old girl in China? Tell her the truth? Even if I did simplify it?


China is fraught with censorship. Not to mention it is explicitly in my contract to avoid discussing anything that is politically contentious. Yesterday, my student asked if coronavirus was in America, and I told her she had to ask her parents about it. Not that coronavirus should be politically contentious…but I’ve been given instructions to divert…Which I understand. Coronavirus is scary, and maybe that discussion should be left to the parents.

And maybe some of these other issues (namely my civil and human rights) should be left to the parents to discuss as well… It’s pretty horrifying that America is built on a lie and continues to project its propaganda around the world.

But I have to admit. It’s hard teaching America to the world when America has been telling nothing but lies about itself and the people in it.

How do you (how can you) teach about America, when America is a lying, stealing, violent son of a gun? Hit me in the comments below.

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