Roni Dean-Burren received a very unusual text message last week from her son Coby, a freshmen at Pearland High School in Texas. The text message was a photograph of a map of immigration in the United States. However, there was something a bit odd about this history map.
The map called the Africans sent to agricultural plantations between the 1500s-1800s in the United States 'workers' not slaves.
Her son Coby captioned the photo with "we was real hard workers, wasn't we."
The textbook, Texas World Geography, also included a description of Europeans coming to the United States as indentured servants, but lacked details about the African slave trade.
"It talked about the U.S.A. being a country of immigration, but mentioning the slave trade in terms of immigration was just off," Dean-Burren said to The New York Times. "It's that nuance of language. This is what erasure looks like."
Dean-Burren created a Facebook video to show the errors in her son’s social studies textbook.
Her video reached over 2 million views, and even got the attention of the textbook's publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, who wrote on their Facebook page that they 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."
"Our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves," McGraw-Hill Education wrote on their Facebook page.
This Texas mother stood up to the textbook company... and she won.
Despite the victory, it turns out that the Lone Star state has a long way to go. In previous years, the Texas Board of Education approved a history curriculum that included the "positive" aspects of slavey, no mention Jim Crow laws and that Moses and his covenant contributed to our constitutional structure.
(H/T: The New York Times)