Thursday, January 15, 2009

Study Finds African American Contributions Left Out of College Textbooks

Well, if you’re one of those parents who feels school just doesn’t teach your kids anything—you might be right…and wrong. A recent study of college introductory textbooks and African-Americans coverage in them revealed that our contributions, if mentioned at all, were very superficial.

Sherri L. Wallace and Marcus D. Allen found the following:

African-American participation in American’s political development is treated separately from the rest of the country’s development, often only including a chapter on Civil Rights.

Very little thought was given to the political differences among us.

Narratives were limited to historical-institutional discussions of famous court cases or well known black institutions or figures—all were dealt with in the past tense.

Discussions about women were based on the historical worldwide view of white middle-class women with little mention of the contributions of African-American women—there were a few references to famous figures such as Anita Hill, Barbara Jordon, Condoleezza Rice, etc.

Very little research the authors used to write about us was taken from works by African-American political thinkers.

So, if you feel your kids aren’t learning anything is school, you’re right—they aren’t learning about themselves. Equally sad; white kids aren’t learning about the tremendous accomplishments African-Americans have made to this country and the diversity of our race.

This is very troubling. As Wallace and Allen put it, books do more than just deliver information, they serve as a template for how people are viewed and expected to act. They are also written by people with ideas, interests, and agendas—“they help create what a society recognize[s]…as legitimate in its political culture.”

Parents, be warned, this is racism at its deepest level—our institutions of “higher learning.” that’s why it’s vital you teach your kids their history. What if you don’t know? There’s nothing more fun than going to a public library as a family and reading it together! And for me, it also settles the debate over the relevance of our historically black colleges and universities because at them, our children can learn from us about us.