Textbook Company Receives Backlash for Interpreting Slaves As “Workers” and “Immigrants”

A Texas mother took to YouTube to voice her frustrations after textbook giant McGraw-Hill rewrote slavery out of history. In a section titled “Passage of Immigration,” Roni Dean-Burren noticed that slaves were referred to as “workers” and “immigrants.”

The passage 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.”

“The Atlantic slave trade brought millions of workers … notice the nuanced language there. Workers implies wages … yes?” Dean-Burren wrote on her Facebook.

Dean-Burren notes in her video that the Textbook also includes a passage saying that many Europeans and English people “came over to work as indentured servants for little or no pay.”

McGraw Hill heard of the backlash and took to Facebook to respond to Dean-Burren, announcing it will be updating the textbook in its next print and in digital format.

“We believe we can do better,” McGraw-Hill posted on its Facebook. “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.”

This isn’t the first time Texas textbooks have received backlash for revisionism – ten university scholars accused Texas textbooks of including biased statements about Islam, Native Americans, capitalism, religion and the Civil War.

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About the Author
Setareh Baig is a writer and editor. She recently graduated from Florida State University and served as the editor-in-chief of the school's newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. You can follow her on Twitter at @heysetareh_.

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