A Texas mom called out the publishers of her son's geography textbook for including an incredibly racist passage. Roni Dean-Burren, a doctoral candidate at the University of Houston, filmed a short video about the passage in her 15 year-old son's book, and posted it to her Facebook page. Since posting it on October 1st, the Dean-Burren's video has been viewed over 1,860,000 times.
The textbook is called World Geography, and it's published by McGraw-Hill Education. Slavery is discussed in a section of the book called "Patterns of Immigration". As if it weren't insulting enough to imply that the slave trade was somehow the same as immigration, the offending passage says:
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.
World Geography does go out of its way to call some Europeans brought to America "indentured servants" who received "little to no pay", yet implies that slaves are "immigrants" who came to America to "work".
When the situation was first brought to McGraw-Hill Education's attention, a memo was issued to employees and was provided to the New York Post. The memo was written by Chief Executive Officer David Levin and said that the company was "deeply sorry that the caption was written this way". The reason was that, despite the book going through several reviews by "many people inside and outside the company, and was made available for public review, no one raised concerns about the caption". The deeply disturbing part about this is that it is likely entirely accurate. World Geography had to have gone through several hands before reaching the publishing stage, and each of those individuals had to have read that caption and believed it suitable for printing.
The company released a much stronger public statement on their Facebook page, saying that "we believe we can do better". In order to address the situation, the company has agreed to "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". The changes will be made immediately in their digital versions, in the book's next print run, and stickers will be provided to schools to replace the caption.
Dean-Burren was elated at the news, saying "this is why your voices matter!!!" She also gave credit to her son, Coby, who originally pointed out the language to his mom, saying "look at your power son!!!"
It's a happy ending to a situation that should never have happened in the first place. Language matters and should never be used to erase history.
Watch Dean-Burren's video below:https://www.facebook.com/roni.deanburren/videos/10208248919206996/?pnref=story