Texas Mom Shocked By What Her Son’s Book Says About Slavery
Texas mother Roni Dean Burren posted a video yesterday on Facebook, which is quickly going viral, in which she expresses her entirely understandable dissatisfaction with the fact that a chapter on immigration in her her son’s geography book insinuated that slaves were basically just immigrant workers.
Although the book did actually use the phrase “Atlantic Slave Trade” (which I’ll get to in a moment), slaves were referred to as “workers.” On the next page, the book mentioned that white people came over and worked as indentured servants, and just straight up declined to mention anything further about black people at all.
This is actually par for the course now when it comes to history books, specifically in Texas, but also across the country because most schools use textbooks designed for Texas. Actually, it’s surprising that the book even used the term “slave trade,” as Texas school books are required to refer to the slave trade as the “Atlantic Triangular Trade.” They’re also required, in the rare instances when slavery is even mentioned, to include “positive” aspects of slavery along with the bad.
For instance, here’s an excerpt from a 7th grade history textbook:
The treatment of enslaved Africans varied. Some slaves reported that their masters treated them kindly. To protect their investment, some slaveholders provided adequate food and clothing for their slaves. However, severe treatment was very common. Whippings, brandings, and even worse torture were all part of American slavery.
The textbooks are also required to say that slavery was only a “side issue” in the civil war.
The reason for this is that Conservatives on the Texas Board of Education (the majority) feel that criticizing slavery is an example of “liberal bias” in education. Which is not surprising — as Stephen Colbert once said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
I don’t know about you, but if I were trying — as many Conservatives are — to convince the world I wasn’t racist, I might not suggest that criticizing slavery was a liberal thing to do.
It’s not just slavery either. Thomas Jefferson was largely cut out of Texas schoolbooks so children wouldn’t know that a Founding Father supported the separation of church and state; in fact, there can be no mention of separation of church and state at all, and the Founding Fathers must be depicted as being inspired by Moses and not the Enlightenment. Also: McCarthyism is supposed to be depicted as AWESOME AND TOTALLY EFFECTIVE; Phyllis Schlafly is an American hero; Internment camps weren’t racist; and perhaps my favorite, a sociology textbook with a chapter on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders must also teach “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices,” because they feel Sociology focuses too much on society.
All of this is to say that the Texas Board of Education is completely freaking deranged and kind of obsessed with raising a generation of children who are very religious, don’t get what was so bad about slavery, and who will be incredibly easy to beat on quiz shows.
So it’s really important that more parents like Rusty Styles speak out and say that this is not what they want their kids learning.
[h/t Keila Miranda]