Cheree O’Shields is a registered nurse who works at Kateri Residence, a program of St. Stephen’s Human Services that serves Native American women and children. She has worked as a nurse and advocate for homeless youth in the Twin Cities since 2005. She is currently working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in Public Health Nursing and Adolescent Health at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.
Introducing the ReThink History Project:
From the moment that individuals are introduced to structures and individuals in ‘power’, there is an underlying systemic bias towards white individuals. The history of our country cannot be discussed without first addressing the historical trauma that colonialism has imposed on individuals of color within the boundaries of the United States, and beyond. Iris Young discusses the five faces of oppression as: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. The main oppressive event that everyone’s mind jumps to is slavery. While slavery was not just taking place in the U.S., it has greatly shaped how our country developed policies and laws that may still be in place today. Not only have our political institutions been formed under this social construction of ‘whiteness’, but so has popular media, the entire academic system, and the cycle of socialization in our world.
In Winston Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain speech he addresses the all-too-often-phenomena of history being written by the victors. Our stories and our history should never be forgotten, yet so often there are individuals whom have made powerful changes in the United States, whose stories and names remain out of our history curricula and classrooms. In her TedTalks speech, Chimamanda Adichie speaks to “the danger of a single story” representing an entire group of people. The true American dream of a ‘Land of Opportunity’ has been lost.
Through the ReThink History project we aim to bring light to those individuals not recognized in our history textbooks, or discussed in the standard classroom setting – yet should never be forgotten. We believe taking an honest look at the past and questioning the normal history narrative can help everyone understand, and improve, our world. We would like to acknowledge the many different lenses and approaches that could be taken for this history project, yet we choose to specially focus on female identified individuals. Through this project we will post on Thursdays, around topics relating to this subject matter, in order to help us all become more educated on our past and present.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask either in the comments section below or through personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please take a look at the first project we will be leading:
Words—an interlocking web of significance. Life is breathed into an idea through them. With the power that a single utterance can provide, we began to think, “What does “hero” mean? This word has worn many faces. A great uncle who beat cancer, a next-door-neighbor who volunteered abroad, a famous deep-sea diver—the list is endless. With this in mind, we wondered, “What is the commonly assumed embodiment of a hero?” “What is the stereotype?” “What is the definition of a hero.” According to Oxford Dictionary:
noun: hero; plural noun: heroes;
”A person, typically male, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”
We are curious if this one-dimensional depiction of what a “hero” is limits the exposure of other important heroes. Throughout history, white males have been featured in many positions of power, and thus have been seen as heroes. Undeniably, there are countless white men who have done great things in this world. However, the way our media, textbooks, and cultural perpetuation shape our understanding of what it has meant and what it means now to be a “hero” often confines our perspectives to one narrative.
So, we are interested.
We are hopeful that this project will bring awareness and exposure to many different types of heroes.
By submitting your story, you can add to a collection that will be un-uniformed and undefined. We are very excited to see the submissions! They can be submitted in the form of:
Written response: The length is subjective, however, the more concise you can be, the better!
Video response: A short clip can be submitted to the e-mail address provided.
In person video recording with our team: We will be conducting short video recordings at the U of M campus.
E-Mail Address: Rethinkhistoryproject@gmail.com