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There’s something about the end of the year that makes lists even more exciting than they usually are: reading lists, political news, list of new leaders to follow. They make it fun and easy to reflect on the year.
On Friday, Politico ran one such list of “16 top historians” who talked about how history will remember 2018.
“POLITICO Magazine asked the smartest historians we know to put all that happened over the past 12 months in its proper historical context—by literally writing the paragraph that history books of the future will include about 2018,” the introduction reads.
It was a creative spin to end the year with. The list includes historians, professors, and authors, all discussing a range of topics from race, immigration, how women took over the midterms—basically, all the important political happenings from the past year. The list of historians itself is very insightful, very informative, and very white.
By Saturday, people on Twitter noticed this and started calling Politico out for it. It started with some pointing out there was only one African-American historian in the otherwise entirely white crew:
(Levin later corrected his tweet to note that William Jones from the list is African-American).
An article like this, which features 17 white historians and 1 historian of color, isn't just a diversity problem. It's piss-poor history, since it represents only a sliver of current historical scholarship. Do better, @politico. https://t.co/Wd6hHQMpGA— Charles Hughes (@CharlesLHughes2) December 28, 2018
Important note to those asking, "Did any POC comment on this piece before it went live?" The reality is that, at many of these newsrooms, POCs often do not have decision-making power and fear retribution for speaking up. You know, like at your own jobs. https://t.co/miDAoRXEfQ— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) December 29, 2018
I'm disappointed by the majority of choices made. However, the complete lack of Historians of Color shows Politico isn't interested in a true picture of what historians think. To lead the list with a historian who plagiarized is insulting to those of us who are historians.— InsertKathrynJanewayeyerollhere (@JodiGabert49677) December 29, 2018
Shame on @politico's all-white historian list. So patently racist.— Keri Leigh Merritt (@KeriLeighMerrit) December 28, 2018
I publicly vow that if I'm ever included in something re: historians, I'll inquire about who else is included & if there are no Black scholars, I'm OUT.
And I'm calling on other white historians to do the same. https://t.co/8HGinlA0Uu
Historian and professor Dr. Keisha N. Blain commented on the lack of diversity in the list, and made her own list of African-American historians:
Thanks, @politico, for your all-white list of #historians offering insights on 2018! Here's a thread of some other historians in the United States who you did not know existed. I'll start with a few & others will contribute to the thread to help you out. https://t.co/088s9syAUx— Dr. Keisha N. Blain (@KeishaBlain) December 28, 2018
Dr. Blain made a list of at least seven historians, including individuals and organizations, which you can see here. It resonated with many:
Thank you Dr. Blain. Your list is more relevant to me than Politico. My sister is a historian. Interesting they couldn’t spend the time consulting with more than one POC who is also a Historian. That Eurocentric ideology is still the supremacist POV in media. https://t.co/bfaILHdPNG— LaSonja S. Hill (@LaSonja_Hill) December 29, 2018
And because it’s Twitter and this moment was inevitable, someone pointed out there needs to be diversity beyond including only African-Americans and white people:
I am not sure this list is any more diverse than the one Politico chose. Where are the [email protected], South Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, or East Asian historians? Diversity has to mean something more than just adding black folks to an all white list.— Amazing Dr. Screech (@DrScreech) December 28, 2018
Fair enough. How about Jimmy Patiño (https://t.co/L2SDbQKCUu), Nayan Shah (https://t.co/SJEAHwr6DQ), or Wayne Yang (https://t.co/ZY2dhvtCuy)? And for organizations, the Critical Mixed Race Studies group (https://t.co/UJwDkaFHuZ). Thanks for listening.— Amazing Dr. Screech (@DrScreech) December 28, 2018
The Daily Dot reached out to Dr. Blain for comment but did not hear back by press time.
For now, the strive for inclusiveness remains a battle uphill but looks like it’s being fought one tweet at a time.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque