Is the state of Texas promoting a racist textbook to be used in high school classes? Proposed class material found within a textbook ostensibly about Mexican-American history is filled with racial stereotypes and inaccuracies, the Washington Post reports.
The textbook is so odious that a coalition of educators is not only trying to keep the racist textbook out of their schools, but they are also in complete opposition to the book being published at all.
The textbook was initially seen as a victory for Latino activists and educators, who have been asking the Texas State Board of Education to focus more on Latino Americans and utilize more inclusive texts within the classroom, allowing all Texas students to learn about an important part of their history. When the new textbook was included among those books being considered for the 2017-2018 school year, those advocates celebrated — until excerpts from that textbook were released.
It seemed obvious to many that the version of Latino American history being portrayed in the textbook was racist, full of inaccurate stereotypes, and did far more harm than good.
The inaccurate stereotypes begin before a potential student even opens the textbook. The cover features a man in a headdress, and as the Huffington Post reports, the image is available for public use under a Creative Commons license, and depicts an “Aztec Dance Look.” Although the dance itself is popular in Mexico, critics say it is not a relevant, accurate portrait of Mexican Americans.
— Thomas Leavitt (@tvleavitt) July 20, 2016
The textbook also brushed over the Chicano movement, which was an effort to work toward Mexican-American empowerment in the 1960s, in broad, overwhelmingly negative strokes.
“Chicanos…adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society.”
Chicano scholars refute proposed texas textbook on mexican american heritage. https://t.co/pwRE22XNaS
— Aztlan Libre Press (@AztlanLPress) May 28, 2016
The textbook also makes the claim that, while Industrialists were “driven,” Mexican laborers “were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously,” as Think Progress reports.
In other instances of racism and stereotyping, the book links Mexican Americans to illegal immigration and the illegal drug trade and infers that Mexican pride is a way of dividing American society.
“College youth attempted to force their campuses to provide indigenismo-oriented curriculum, Spanish-speaking faculty and scholarships for poor and illegal students…During the Cold War, as the United States fought Communism worldwide, these kinds of separatist and supremacy doctrines were concerning. While solidarity with one’s heritage was understood, Mexican pride at the expense of American culture did not seem productive.”
The book also seems to point fingers at different cultures with Latino America, praising one nationality for its ability to “fit in” and “find their niche” while seemingly criticizing Mexican Americans for being “ambivalent” about assimilation.
“Cubans seemed to fit into Miami well, for example, and find their niche in the business community. Mexicans, on the other hand, seemed more ambivalent about assimilating into the American system and accepting American values…The concern that many Mexican-Americans feel disconnected from American cultures and values is still present.”
Texas Board of Education member Ruben Cortez Jr. condemned the textbook in no uncertain terms, stating, “Based on the initial conversation with these experts, I don’t believe that this book should see the inside of any classroom in any shape, form, or fashion… If it’s as bad as they’re all telling me, there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to support this book.”
In opposition is fellow board member David Bradley, who opposed the entire idea of a Mexican-American focus in textbooks. He finds the whole debate “amusing,” dismissing Cortez and others like him as “left-leaning, radical Hispanics” who wanted special treatment and are now upset.
“It’s really kind of amusing. The left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists, having pounded the table for special treatment, get approval for a special course that nobody else wanted… Now they don’t like their special textbook?”
In perspective, more than 50 percent of the more than five million students in Texas are Hispanic, according to the most recent Texas Education Agency report.
The Texas State Board of Education will review the textbook and allow for a public comment period in the fall.
[Image via Shutterstock]