History, much like the Internet, can be fascinating. But they're both fundamentally flawed, and it's important to understand why.
History is like a massive library of origins -- people, places, cultures, and voices. But the stories that are taught and the voices are that heard are, to a large degree, political. In the U.S., the voices of marginalized communities have often been silenced in order to keep the idea that America is special, or "exceptional."
Wikipedia is basically the brain of the Internet, which is awesome. It's accessible, easy-to-read, and has probably saved you once (or several times) in your academic career. But Wikipedia is only as comprehensive as we are, and when it comes to history, we have a long way to go.
As Black History month enters its final week, The New York Times reports that at Howard University, one of the top historically black colleges in the U.S., students and faculty have taken on the incredible task of making Wikipedia more inclusive of Black History. The students and faculty gathered at a Howard research center to brainstorm potential entries to make Wikipedia less whitewashed. Like most historic moments, this was done over coffee and pizza.
James Hare, president of Wikimedia D.C., spoke to The Times about the endeavor.
“The stereotype of a Wikipedia editor is a 30-year-old white man, and so most of the articles written are about stuff that interests 30-year-old white men ... So a lot of black history is left out," he said.
People like surgeon Myra Adele Logan and Mildred Blount, a high-profile fashion designer, were among the names the group decided to add to Wikipedia. The more entries added, the richer our nation's history, the better we are.