After years of lobbying the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE) for further inclusion of Mexican-American history in textbooks, activists received their wish in April 2014 when the board voted 11-3 in favor. Now the TSBE is facing criticism after excerpts from the new material has been made available publicly and it is not what activists were seeking.
This is not the first time the TSBE has come under fire, as some may recall an incident in 2010 when Thomas Jefferson was completely written out of an approved history book. In a more recent example of stupidity in late 2015 it was discovered a textbook described slaves as mere “workers”, as if they were taken in chains across the Atlantic Ocean of their own free will.
The text now in question, called “Mexican American Heritage”, is among several other books which have been proposed for the 2017-2018 school year. Critics say the book paints Mexican history in an unfair and often racist light.
For starters the image on the cover is a photograph of a man wearing an “Aztec Dance Look“, which is popular in Mexico but is not an accurate representation of Mexican culture. Further the books make little effort to distinguish between the labels of “Mexican American” or “Chicano”, the latter term which many Mexican Americans find offensive and derogatory. The book even goes so far as to tacitly condemn “Chicanos” for wanting to “destroy” Western civilization.
In excerpts they called the white industrialists “driven” but said Mexican laborers “were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously”- tantamount to calling them lazy, which is an exceptionally insulting and broad generalization about the backbone of the American economy. 14.7% of American economic production comes from Hispanic migrant workers, and they perform necessary jobs that Americans simply aren’t willing to do.
A University of Houston professor, Nicolas Kanellos, said the recently released text, “appears to be blatant opportunism from certain people to make money and/or to water down the real Mexican American history.”
Critics are rightfully concerned about these and other mischaracterizations as the state of Texas is the nation’s largest purchaser of textbooks, which allows them to influence what textbooks will be available for use in other states.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.