School textbook company McGraw-Hill was forced to apologize this week after a mother noticed that one of their books represented African slaves as immigrant workers. The textbook was called “New World Geography and is printed in the state of Texas and distributed widely in the US. In Texas alone, 138,930 copies of that textbook were sold in the past year.
The passage in question reads, “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”
After seeing the passage in her child’s book, mother Roni Dean-Burren posted the section on Facebook and made a video about it, reaching over a million people in just a few days.
This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography programs. This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, we conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves.
We believe we can do better. To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run.
McGraw-Hill Education is committed to developing the highest quality educational materials and upholding the academic integrity of our products. We value the insight the public brings to discussions of our content.
This is actually not the first time that this has happened. In 2010, in the state of Texas there was a lot of controversy surrounding a textbook company that was trying to rewrite history in order to advance a neo-con agenda. The NAACP was completely infuriated by a few textbook changes in particular regarding slavery and the celebration of Jim Crow laws. Since most textbooks printed in America come from Texas this was a very serious issue that affected the minds of millions of impressionable children.
Generally the historical curriculum in government school is skewed to portray the establishment in a positive light. History lessons make warmongers look like martyrs because the warmongers have control over the formation of these lessons. Many of the harsh realities involving the civil war, the great depression and the civil rights movements were completely left out, along with the real history of slave owning aristocratic presidents and robber barons. These are pivotal points in history that one must have a clear picture of in order to make sense of what is going on in the world today. Without a proper understanding of the injustice that our species has overcome in the past, we will not be able to overcome the injustices that we are experiencing in the present.
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John Vibes writes for True Activist and is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.
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