From my last post, some of my readers might be assuming I support a culturally responsive social studies classroom. And you would be 100% correct. To that end, I sat down the other day with the history textbook we are using in my junior-level world history class. If this book purports to be about world history, how does it reflect that with the images it uses?
The results surprised me a little.
I chose to split my results like this: Images that contained only white characters, images with both white characters and characters of other races, and images with characters of races other than white. In the end, 44.7% of the images had only white characters in them, 48.7% had characters of races other than white, and only 6.6% had white characters alongside characters of other races.
Now I know there are some issues here. First of all, if I chose to single out one race (white people), then why didn’t I give every other race another category? That is a fair question. I said above that the results surprised me. That surprise came in two stages. First, I was surprised that things seemed like they were almost equal between whites and non-whites. Then I realized that I had made a mistake: I had lumped all non-white people into one category.
The reality of the textbook I analyzed was that 44.7% of the images were of white characters. subsequently, there was a chapter or two on Asian history, a few chapters on Africa, and a chapter on South America. So the real graph would have been totally dominated by white characters, with the rest of history relegated to small fragments.
Is it time to re-think our textbooks? I would say yes.