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Texas educators’ proposal to use 'involuntary relocation' instead of slavery rejected

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on September 17, 2015 shows a teacher posing with her seventh-grader students in a classroom in Boston, USA. (File photo by Reuters)

US educators' proposal to use "involuntary relocation" instead of slavery to avoid upsetting school students has been rejected. 

The Texas State Board of Education on Thursday rejected the request by a workgroup of educators, who had proposed referring to slavery as “involuntary relocation” in second-grade classrooms, to reconsider their proposal.

The workgroup assigned for the task consisted of nine educators, including teachers, social studies specialists, instructional coaches and a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and was one of many such groups advising the state education board a year after lawmakers passed a law to keep topics that make students “feel discomfort” out of Texas classrooms.

“The board -- with unanimous consent -- directed the work group to revisit that specific language,” Keven Ellis, chair of the Texas State Board of Education said in a statement.

Annette Gordon-Reed, a history professor at Harvard University, said using “involuntary relocation” as a euphemism to describe slavery threatens to blur out what actually happened during that time in history.

“Young kids can grasp the concept of slavery and be kidnapped into it,” Gordon-Reed said. “The African slave trade is unlike anything that had or has happened, the numbers and distance.”

Gordon-Reed insisted the unnecessary use of the proposed language euphemisms and double talk should be avoided in classrooms.

If language like what the group of Texas educators proposes is accepted and taught to children, it means the country is moving in the wrong direction, she pointed out.

“Tell children the truth. They can handle it,” she said.

The Texas State Board of Education, which has some 8,866 public schools under its supervision, develops a new curriculum for social studies every ten years to update what children should be learning.

However, the Texas State Board of Education has become heavily politicized, from lawmakers passing legislation on how race and slavery should be taught in schools to conservative political action committees pouring large amounts of money to put more conservatives on school boards who promise to get rid of curriculum and programs they consider divisive and which make White children in the classrooms feel uncomfortable due to their White forefather's atrocities against the blacks.

It is estimated that there were 250,000 slaves in Texas before slavery was abolished in the United States.

African American writer and journalist Abayomi Azikiwe says the United States was “founded on racism and national oppression”, however, Republicans oppose to schools teaching about the "history of racism".

In this regard, US scholars devised the Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a way of studying the legacy of racism and slavery in the United States and how these forces continue to impact Americans.

The educational concept is based on the argument that race is a social construct and that the United States was built on racist structures that exist today.

A 2021 poll showed that the majority of Americans support the teaching of CRT principles to students.

“This recent poll by two leading recorders of public opinion in the United States illustrates the gross misrepresentation by right-wing political elements. If the majority of people want the teaching of the actual history and social conditions of the country in the public schools, then this is what should prevail.”

“By denying the legacies of slavery, institutional racism, national oppression and economic exploitation will only serve to further divide an already polarized country. Anti-racist education is essential in creating an atmosphere of hope and commitment to realizing a truly just society,” added Azikiwe who is editor at the Pan-African News Wire, an electronic press agency that was founded in 1998.

Azikiwe has worked for decades in solidarity with the liberation movements and progressive governments on the African continent and the Caribbean.

“Those who perpetuate racism and discrimination of all forms in the US want to conceal their policies and practices by imposing ignorance on young students as well as adults. By outlawing critical race theory in schools it provides the ruling interests with yet another mechanism to avoid the truth of the origins of ideological racism as a fundamental cornerstone of the existing American system of governance,” he said in a written comment to Press TV.  

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