McGraw-Hill Tries to Rewrite History

Astrid Ressler, Copy Editor

McGraw-Hill is one of the biggest companies that publishes textbooks for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms across the country. The company has been in the news this week over their controversial use, or rather misuse, of some choice words within their newest edition of a World Geography textbook.

One mother from Houston noticed the publishing company’s indiscretions that were printed in her 15 year old son’s textbook. She pointed out on social media that the textbook referred to the slaves that were captured and brought to America between the 1500s and 1800s as “workers” and “immigrants.” These two words imply that the African people willingly traveled across the Atlantic Ocean during this time, and once they arrived, were paid for the work they did on the plantations where they lived.

These mistakes were brought to the Facebook page of the company, and their responses to the uproar of their poor word choices were less than appealing to those who commented and shared their thoughts on the matter.

CNN reported about this matter on their website and quoted the McGraw-Hill Facebook page. The company issued a statement which said, “We believe we can do better.” So far, no actual apology has been made for the grave and inaccurate statements made in their textbooks.

These dreadfully underwhelming and deceitful phrases were also, to make the matter even more troubling, put into the World Geography textbook’s “Patterns of Immigration” section.

McGraw-Hill has said that their online version of the textbook will be updated and changed immediately to use better and more accurate word choices, “ … 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,” as their Facebook page expressed.

The problem with their so-called solution is that the published hard copies of the World Geography textbook will still reflect this erroneous and fictional depiction of how the slave trade occurred. If they update their next edition of the book, as they have said that they will, then this current edition will be used in classrooms all over the United States for at least the next five, if not ten, years.

This information waters down so much of the history for black Americans living in the United States today. These lies essentially pose to wash the hands of white Americans who did the enslaving, capturing, kidnapping and, eventually, torturous forcing of Africans into doing hard labor in a country very different from their own.

There is no way to soften this history that is a part of the American dream so many people strive to achieve. At what cost was that? And then of course, those who write history are the ones who have all of the control. If we teach students lies, then what good is teaching them at all?

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