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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Workers"?

Oh, Lord, this is awful:

Roni Dean-Burren posted the video to her Facebook page after her son Coby sent her a photo of his ninth-grade geography book. The video shows the textbook with a map detailing immigration patterns across American history. Africans are listed as one of those "immigrant" groups; the caption reads: "The Atlantic slave trade between the 1500s and the 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations."

That...oy. Needs editing, he says with English understatement.

Immigration is generally--but not always--regarded as a voluntary activity. And "workers" underplays the horror of slavery, even in the context of a sentence that explicitly references the slave trade. Fix it--and send actual pages to insert in their place.

Where I part ways with the article is in its strong implication that this gaffe was driven by Texas' educational standards. However, those standards require students to understand both the development of slavery generally and the African slave trade and its impacts in particular.

4 comments:

  1. Her son attends my high school alma mater and the class is taught by someone I graduated with who's hardly a conservative. He made some valid points in an exchange with her that mitigates the idea this was a nefarious promotion of an agenda rather than a poor choice of words in the text. To her credit, the publisher has already revised the digital version and will update the printed next year, which she rightly turned into a teachable moment for her son to speak up.

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  2. Oh, I definitely don't think it was some kind of slavery apologetics, just an idiotic construction that should have been weeded out during the editing process.

    And it did prompt me to think about the possibility of more-or-less involuntary emigration--as in the millions of displaced persons following the Second World War. Countless people came to the U.S. not because they originally wanted to leave their homeland, but because they had nowhere else to go. Not that that's the same thing as enslavement, but it's not fully voluntary, either.

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  3. I didn't think you did, but that's what she and a bunch of her "friends" turned it into. I saw the whole thing play out on Facebook because my friend got tagged when she specifically called him out for trying to defend the publisher, which he didn't do.

    One African American gentleman actually made a similar point you did in your second paragraph. You can imagine how that went.

    At some point I'm going to follow your lead and pluck out my right eye.

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  4. Oh, man--sounds...well, pretty typical of a FB thread.

    And I just thought of something else--early America, like Australia, was a dumping ground for deported convicts from the UK. So, yeah--more involuntary immigrants.

    As to unplugging FB, all I can say is that, for me, the positives had become far outweighed by the negatives. I miss the friendly back and forth, kid-bragging, jokes and the like. But that didn't make up for the nasty jabs to the eyes every time I logged in. It's a cesspool of outraged identity politics right now--sex, race, religion, economics--you name it.

    And I'll gladly concede that some of the complaints are legitimate, but I can't marinade my brain in that. No way.

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