History with Her: A Bold New Perspective on World History
Gracia Collins-Rich is on a mission to shake up the world of history by challenging the traditional, Eurocentric narratives that dominate the field. As a Black woman, she recognizes the power of history to shape our understanding of the world, and the importance of telling it in a way that reflects the diversity of human experience. Her new website, History with Her, is dedicated to bringing fresh, inclusive perspectives to the study of world history by sharing books, people, and places that may or may not be known. With a commitment to authenticity and a passion for telling unbiased accounts of history, Collins-Rich is helping to redefine the way we think about the past and its relevance to the present. Whether you’re a seasoned history buff or simply curious about the world around you, History with Her is a site that offers something truly unique and refreshing.
What inspired you to start the History with Her website?
I decided that I wanted to start the History With Her website so that I could go deeper into the history that I post on my page. On my Instagram page, the captions for my books only touch the surface of the book or event (even when some of them are a bit long), so I wanted to create a place where people could get more in-depth information.
What kind of research do you have to do to create accurate content for the website?
For me, it is lots of reading primary and secondary sources. I am BIG on fact-checking because I don’t want to put out anything that is false and have people believe or repeat it as fact. I’m also a great fan of going to historical places and monuments that I can easily visit.
What kind of challenges did you face in starting this website?
My greatest challenge was myself. I have been working on (or not working on) this website for the past two years, but I could never get it finished. Not because I didn’t have time, but because procrastination coupled with life is a REAL THING! I would always say that I’m going to get to it and I’m just getting to it.
There was also the challenge of what parts of history did I want to present. I’m a person who wants to give EVERYTHING to visitors to this site, but I had to pump my brakes because I do have a full-time job and time is going to be limited. So, I’ve decided on topics that I can present once a month without fail. That being said, this is just the start. Who knows what will end up on the site once I really get into it?
How do you strive to make the history of the United States more inclusive and reflective of different perspectives?
My site is what I like to call “all-inclusive history”. That is prevalent from the Home page. I believe that the history of this Country should reflect the people of this country (that sounded much like a politician. LOL), but I do. White supremacist thought tends to be the norm for American history education in the US. That’s just a fact. The unspoken belief is that American exceptionalism can only be reflected in White people. We see that in our textbooks, no matter when you were in school. If any non-white culture is presented, it is either brief, negative, or both. On my site, we will see heroism and truth from all races, because that is the American TRUTH, the non-sanitized version. I won’t demonize any race on my site, but I will present real history for everyone. Let the villains fall where they may.
Can you tell us about any particularly interesting or unique aspects of American history that you’ve covered on the website?
It’s hard to say since every month will be different. But you will see more women’s history, southern history, and weird historical facts. This site will be a hodgepodge of all things that I love about American history, so there could be ANYTHING!
How do you hope the website will be received by the community at large and the African American community in particular?
It is my hope that people will learn something from it. I want it to be wonderfully received of course, but I’m also ok if it’s not. There will be some people who won’t be ok with some of the facts found on my site and I get it. Those types of people exist everywhere. But there will be other people who LOVE it, and those are the ones my site is for.
I want the African American community to welcome this site for many reasons, the main one being so that they can see the greatness of who we are. We are more than chattel slavery, we are more than poverty, we are not a problem race, but a privileged one. We are a brilliant, resilient, beautiful people, and I don’t think that American history as we know it has done anything to reflect that. I also want Black people to see themselves in American history. I think sometimes when we think of Black History we remove it from the timeline of overall American history. You have to see these people and experiences in context to truly appreciate what it took to create change. I think we learn more that way, at least I do.
What is one element of the website you feel users will find most interesting?
I think it will be either the blog or the resources page. On the blog, I will share my feelings about historical events and people. The complete off-script ramblings of a history nerd! I think some people will get a kick out of it. On the resource page, I will list all of the history books in my personal library by topic in hopes that someone can use it if they are looking to do research and/or just read on different events or time periods in American History. This resource page took FOREVER to do!
What is the mission of History with Her?
The mission of History With Her is to educate people on the truths and inclusivity of American History, the good and the bad. We need to be taught everything. I feel like American history education has gaslit the majority of people into believing that anything worth doing or being was done by white, male descendants of European countries, which is completely untrue. But these are the people whose gaze the textbooks are written through, so it is expected. There have been leaders, inventors, writers, artists, etc. of all races and I will showcase that on my site. I often wonder how different America would be if this was the way we were taught from the very beginning.
Can you talk about the importance of preserving and sharing American history from a Black woman’s perspective?
I feel that we, as Black women have always been storytellers. Much of our oral histories are passed down by our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. It is something that is ingrained in us. I feel that it is up to us to preserve TRUE American history. As Black women, we have a unique take on the world that goes on around us. It’s not seen through rose-colored glasses or silver spoons. Our history is told through our triumphs over adversity, perseverance through trauma and our tears-both happy and sad. This is the history that needs to be remembered, taught, and studied because here is where we see our humanity. Our perspective is vast, meaningful and all-encompassing of what America was, is and shall be.
How does History with Her aim to educate and engage visitors about American history?
HistoryWithHer aims to educate and engage visitors by presenting American history in new and exciting ways. For many people, American history is about memorizing dates, places, wars, and Presidents. But it’s so much more. I want this site to open people’s eyes to what American history truly is. It is the study of all the people of this Nation, not just the select few that the educational system decided to teach you about. There are so many incredible people that no one has ever heard of. I hope to bring that information to all who visit my site.
How does the website contribute to the larger conversation and understanding of American history, especially in relation to issues of race and diversity?
It contributes by showing excellence in all races. HistoryWithHer is personal to me. It’s a big think piece where I get to express and present valuable pieces of American history. Pieces that are overlooked or completely removed so that the narrative can continue to be around the same 20 people for the next century. When we see facts centered around people who look like us, it will start the conversation, even if it’s something as small as “Why wasn’t I taught this?” This site can be a springboard for those conversations. People are shouting diversity from the rooftops these days. They have workshops about it everywhere, but no one is teaching the racial diversity of American history. We will do that on my page.
Audra Russell is a blogger, freelance writer, and published author. She holds two undergraduate degrees in journalism as well as a Master of Science degree in Education. She also completed the Wesleyan University online Creative Writing Specialization course series.
She is an avid reader and writer’s advocate. Her passion for promoting the works of up-and-coming authors inspired her to create her podcast, Between the Reads, as well as her website, Read It Black to Me. Her debut novel, BLOOD LAND, was published on August 29, 2020, as her fiftieth birthday gift to herself. She lives in Maryland with her husband of more than 20 years, her 3 amazing children, a 12-year-old perpetual puppy, two dueling cats, and her lone surviving chicken of 8 years who she affectionately renamed Gloria (she will survive!)