McGraw-Hill has a World Geography textbook for ninth graders in which, in a section called “Patterns of Immigration,” they write, “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.”
Calling enslaved people merely “workers” implies they were paid for their labor. At the very least it diminishes what the the enslaved people went through.
McGraw-Hill made this statement on their Facebook page: “This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography programs. This program addresses slavery in the world in several lessons and meets the learning objectives of the course. However, 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. 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. These changes will be reflected in the digital version of the program immediately and will be included in the program’s next print run. McGraw-Hill Education is committed to developing the highest quality educational materials and upholding the academic integrity of our products. We value the insight the public brings to discussions of our content.”
Many activists are calling for all the books to be recalled immediately and replaced. It seems to me they could fix it by sending out stickers with corrected text to paste into the books in class without recalling all textbooks. Of course, that wouldn’t change the fact that they have the slave trade in an “immigration” section, but if we think about it, while it was forced immigration it was still an immigration, albeit against the will of the enslaved people and done brutally. This being a geography book, I think they could be forgiven for counting it as a type of immigration. I don’t think we can let them slide for calling enslaved people “workers.”