"Few African Americans have excelled at Olympic swimming, which makes Manuel’s gold medal in Rio de Janeiro that much more powerful."
There is a reason why 70 percent of black teenagers, like those who died in Shreveport, and 60 percent of Hispanic teenagers can’t swim. But it isn’t due to some genetic disorder, as some actually believe. It is because of abject irrational racism and Jim Crow and its vestiges.
This week, after severe criticism, Scholastic pulled a newly published picture book entitled A Birthday Cake for Mr. Washington. The book, which was written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, focused on George Washington's enslaved cook, Hercules, and his daughter Delia, as the two overcome obstacles to make a cake for Washington's birthday.
Many critics argued that it displayed an overly rosy view of a slave's life, and the book was deluged with one-star on Amazon reviews.
Many children, and, sadly, their parents, still need to learn that slavery wasn't idyllic, a boon to their family lives, or an improvement over remaining in their homelands. In fact, slavery was often brutal and dehumanizing even when owners exhibited basic kindness. Slaves were often sold away from their families and loved ones with no notice, destroying what little domestic life they were allowed to have; and the severing of black Americans from their ancestors and heritage in Africa is an irreversible trauma.
These are tough facts to confront kids with, especially young kids, but it's better to start with small doses of truth rather than sowing the seeds for "smiling slave" mythologies. Here are 13 (mostly) honest books for young readers that will help them confront the unpalatable truth of slavery, and celebrate the ingenuity and strength of those who resisted, escaped and survived.
Are you on the wrong side or the right side of history? Is there even a "wrong side" or a "right side"? What do those terms mean and why do politicians and pundits use them? Nationally syndicated columnist and best-selling author Jonah Goldberg explains
Seth Dixon's insight:
Just some context for how the phrase is used in the United States and the ideological assumptions about history.
"I cannot deny people's grief," writes the host of the radio show The Takeaway, who works not that far from Ground Zero. "But I think the 9/11-ization of American life has been a kind of poison for all of us."
Seth Dixon's insight:
This is an interesting perspective on how we remember historical events, and how that impacts our cultural and political perspectives.
Armed with a Google search and a theory, a 14-year-old enters the fray on a longstanding historical debate
To her surprise, she got results. The Washington Post's Moriah Balingkit reports that newspaper archive databases turned up dozens of work ads from the 1800s with the “No Irish Need Apply” caveat spanning a number of professions and U.S. states. According to Fried's findings, which were published last month in the Journal of Social History, the New York Sun newspaper ran 15 “No Irish Need Apply” ads in 1842 alone.
Everything's bigger in Texas — including the gap between reality and what state officials want their kids to learn in school, apparently.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Texas' new social studies textbooks will not mention, A) Jim Crow laws, B) the Ku Klux Klan or C) the primary role slavery played in launching the U.S. Civil War.
Besides relegating generations of Texas kids to "most exasperating dinner guest imaginable" status, this move all but guarantees the ongoing misrepresentation of what the Civil War and, by extension, the Confederate flag were really about.
"Here’s a collection of totally ridiculous vintage postcards and posters dated from around 1900 to 1914 warning men of the dangers associated with the suffragette movement and of allowing women to think for themselves. I think my favorite is the postcard where the woman is pinching the man’s ear and forcing him to clean the home. The nerve of her to request such a thing!"
"The adult coloring book fad is not allowed to be dead, not until you’ve gotten your hands on Gretchen Peterson’s delightful little project, City Maps.(And actually, the trend seems to show no signs of abating, if the global colored pencil shortage is any indication.) Peterson (whose career I recently profiled) is a renowned GIS and map design consultant who took a break from writing cartography textbooks to make the book. For your coloring pleasure, she assembles 44 aerial city maps, which are reduced to black outlines at different scales and levels of detail. Familiar urban patterns include Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, Venice’s Grand Canal, New York City’s Central Park, New Delhi’s Lotus Temple, and the Great Pyramids of Cairo."
Segregated public facilities, including beaches, were commonplace, but even today, the inequality persists
There are few words more closely associated with 20th-century South African history than apartheid, the Afrikaan word for "apartness" that describes the nation's official system of racial segregation. And though the discriminatory divide between whites of European descent and black Africans stretch back to the era of 19th-century British and Dutch imperialism, the concept of apartheid did not become law until 1953, when the white-dominated parliament passed the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, which officially segregated public spaces such as taxis, ambulances, hearses, buses, trains, elevators, benches, bathrooms, parks, church halls, town halls, cinemas, theaters, cafes, restaurants, hotels, schools, universities—and later, with an amendment, beaches and the seashore.
GeoInquiries are designed to be fast and easy-to-use instructional resources that incorporate advanced web mapping technology. Each 15-minute activity in a collection is intended to be presented by the instructor from a single computer/projector classroom arrangement. No installation, fees, or logins are necessary to use these materials and software.
Seth Dixon's insight:
These GeoInquiries from ESRI are excellent resources for history teachers looking for ways to bring online maps to life in their classrooms. The are designed for mapping novices, so don't worry if you don't have an GIS background.
We are very proud and honored for HSTRY to have been recognized as one of the top resources for education in 2015 by the American Association of School Librarians. We are furthermore delighted to have been recognized as a top resource for Curriculum collaboration. This emphasizes the versatility of our tool and how we are used by all kinds of subjects outside of the social studies scope.
"A new generation of scholarship has changed the way that the public understands American history, particularly slavery, capitalism, and the Civil War. Our language should change as well. The old labels and terms handed down to us from the conservative scholars of the early to mid-20th century no longer reflect the best evidence and arguments. Terms like 'compromise' or 'plantation' served either to reassure worried Americans in a Cold War world, or uphold a white supremacist, sexist interpretation of the past.Legal historian Paul Finkelman has made a compelling case against the label 'compromise' to describe the legislative packages that avoided disunion in the antebellum era."
"Maps bring the horror of Hiroshima home -- literally.
Alex Wellerstein, a nuclear historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology, created a NukeMap that allows you to visualize what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki explosions would look like in your hometown. Kuang Keng Kuek Ser at Public Radio International has also developed a version, using slightly different estimates.
Here is what Little Boy, the Hiroshima bomb, would look like on Wellerstein's map if detonated in New York City."
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