Sunday, July 20, 2014

Attention: People in Africa eat and sleep. End of message.

Take a look at this Twitter screenshot:

Have to hand it to The Atlantic, they nailed this one! It is both "bizarre" and "disturbing" to see a "black woman at work". Especially given how rare it is. Of course, that is from the jaded view of Westerners, accustomed as they are to paying for black women not to work.

So what is wrong with this 1906 textbook's depiction of middle Africans at that time? Is it incorrect how the black people hunt or fish? Do the black people run textile mills, or do they make simple clothing? Do they have paper mills and publishing houses, or do they truly have no books? Is it black that disturbs you, or would you have preferred Negro or colored? Is the picture offensive, does it mock the woman or make her look like some mammy stereotype? Or does it perhaps accurately depict something a visitor would have seen in Africa in 1906 - forget 1906, how about 2014?

Excuse me, but I would say the textbook was telling the truth and prophesying the condition of Africans 100 years after its publication. But I know the real problem and so do you. The textbook called the woman a savage - and that is a no-no. Of course, it is also completely accurate, (from Google):

Savage. noun
(chiefly in historical or literary contexts) a member of a people regarded as primitive and uncivilized.

Primitive and uncivilized both no-no words as well? They are also completely accurate.

Primitive. noun
a person belonging to a preliterate, nonindustrial society or culture.

Uncivilized. adj
(of a tribe or people) not yet civilized, esp preliterate.

Damn you understandable words and facts - get ye behind me!

Now let's look at a lesson plan for the 21st century, and see how the agendas differ.


1. Begin by asking students what they know about Africa and if they've ever heard of the Masai people. Ask what they think of when they hear the word Africa. Notice any stereotypical responses and be prepared to dispel those throughout the course of the lesson. [...]

2. Read the book Masai and I with them. Discuss the circumstances mentioned in the book as well as others that the children might think of to compare the two cultures. This book compares the urban life of an American girl to the life of a young Masai girl in rural Africa. The book contrasts environment, homes, clothing, some food, lights and more. [...]

3. On chart paper or on a chalkboard, make a list of similarities and differences you have discussed. Help lead children to adjust stereotypical thinking as you continue to make the chart. [...]

4. End the discussion by focusing on the similarities. Ask them what they learned new about the Masai culture and Africa in general. Point out that we cannot judge people or make assumptions about things until we know all the facts. People may be different and do different things but we are the same in many ways (we all eat, sleep, laugh, cry, have families etc.). Remind them that what they have learned about Africa today is only true of one small group of people in Africa called the Masia.

Oh, thank God! The children will go to school to learn that all people eat and sleep. Vital knowledge for the coming singularity! As you can see, the agenda in 1906 was to give children written, factual information about a little known place. The agenda in 2014 is to train children to discount and ignore differences as irrelevant by reading the source material to them, thus discouraging objective and active learning.

Don't believe me? Then why focus on similarities at the end of the lesson? Try this: teach the class the difference between an apple and an orange by focusing on its similarities! With such teaching methods, the West spawns another generation of well-intentioned mental defectives who can't find Africa on a map of the world, but at least know that the people there eat and sleep.

Please ... please ... please - get your children out of public school!

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