A Mom Called Out a Textbook Publisher for Labeling Slaves as Immigrant Workers

Under a section about "immigrants," slaves are referred to as "workers."

A Texas mom called out textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Education for calling African slaves “workers” in a section on immigration in one of their geography textbooks. Roni Dean-Burren noticed the peculiar word choice because her 15-year-old son was reading the textbook for his ninth-grade Geography class, Buzzfeed reports.

The passage, included in World Geography by McGraw-Hill Education, read: “The Atlantic slave trade between the 1500s and the 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

The miffed mom took to social media to talk about the shocking passage and eventually, after getting many responses, made a video, as well. She complained that calling African slaves “workers” and talking about them in a section about “immigrants” was insulting. The textbook also mentioned that “indentured servants” from Europe received “little to no pay,” and yet, she pointed out, there is no mention of slavery and all the harsh, unpaid work that slaves had to do.

Her video, which was viewed nearly 1.5 million times, caught the attention of McGraw-Hill Education. On Friday, the company announced that they reviewed the section in the book and agree that it needs to be changed. “We conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves,” the company said in a statement. “We believe we can do better. 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.”

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