Slaves Are Not Migrant Workers

Felix Kalvesmaki, Staff writer

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A migrant describes someone who moves, by choice, in order to do work, for pay. Meaning they relocate themselves for a job in order to get money from it.  Again, just in case for some reason that didn’t get through your head, they do this by choice, for pay.

This is where the McGraw-Hill textbook, the book used to teach World Geography, went wrong in talking about slave labor. “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 quote reads, ignoring the repulsive fact that slaves didn’t move by choice, for pay. They were taken by force, and the only thing they received in return was revokement of their rights as a human being.

If the word “slave” didn’t already make it clear enough, these were people that were forced to work with no compensation. It wasn’t migration, it was discrimination. And it wasn’t labor, it was subjugation.

The obvious sugarcoating on the part of McGraw-Hill is obscene and inaccurate, two things that don’t belong in the classroom. As writers of textbooks, your job is to educate students. You’re not doing that job properly if you’re covering up the truth, or trying to lie about the history of America.

Because let’s be honest with ourselves. American colonizers weren’t saints. They killed Native Americans, brought deadly disease, took their land and called it their own. And that’s not even mentioning slave labor. The blatant racist and entitled mentality colonizers had isn’t something you can erase by using a different word in a textbook. Especially when there are great-grandparents of students that read these books that found themselves slaves to the white man.

Despite the incorrect word choice, this history is not gone. Just because you try to make a kind re-write doesn’t mean the vile, disgusting reality is any less truthful. Slavery is just one of the scars on this country, and instead of trying to erase the past, we need to learn from our mistakes and learn our history. Because you know what they say.

Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.

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