Read Court Overturns Controversial UNC Settlement With Neo-Confederate Group Over “Silent Sam” Monument by News Update (Hyperallergic)
A controversial settlement between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has been voided. The settlement, approved in November, would have required UNC to hand over the Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to SCV and pay the group $2.5 mill...
Read The Hidden Stakes of the 1619 Controversy (Boston Review)
Seeking to discredit those who wish to explain the persistence of racism, critics of the New York Times’s 1619 Project insist the facts don’t support its proslavery reading of the American Revolution. But they obscure a longstanding debate within the field of U.S. history over that very issue—distorting the full case that can be made for it.
Incidentally when I read this article, I saw a pop up of a book by the paper that is an anthology of essays presumably published by the site. Is this becoming a common thing now to help create ancillary streams of revenue for newspapers and magazines? I saw one the other day for a series by Colin Woodard as the first.

Originally bookmarked at January 24, 2020 at 02:48PM

Read Did George Washington’s false teeth come from his slaves?: A look at the evidence, the responses to that evidence, and the limitations of history (washingtonpapers.org)
George Washington‘s false teeth were not wooden, as you may have heard. They were actually made from a variety of materials, including human teeth. According to the accounting record in Mount Vernon’s Ledger Book B, the teeth may have been pulled from Washington’s slaves.
His teeth apparently came from slaves… ugh.
Listened to The Daily: A Broken Promise on Taxes from New York Times

FedEx pledged investment in exchange for a tax cut. We look at what the company has done with a tax bill of $0 — and billions back in the bank.

Read Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. (nytimes.com)
We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks used in California and Texas. Here’s how political divides shape what students learn about the nation’s history.

📑 Highlights and Annotations

Conservatives have fought for schools to promote patriotism, highlight the influence of Christianity and celebrate the founding fathers. In a September speech, President Trump warned against a “radical left” that wants to “erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

I can’t help but think here about a recent “On The Media” episode A Civilization As Great As Ours which highlighted changes in how history is taught in India. This issue obviously isn’t just relegated to populist India.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:22AM

Pearson, the publisher whose Texas textbook raises questions about the quality of Harlem Renaissance literature, said such language “adds more depth and nuance.”

If they wanted to add more “depth and nuance” wouldn’t they actually go into greater depth on the topic by adding pages instead of subtly painting it such a discouraging light?

But Texas students will read that some critics “dismissed the quality of literature produced.”

Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:27AM

Publishers are eager to please state policymakers of both parties, during a challenging time for the business. Schools are transitioning to digital materials. And with the ease of internet research, many teachers say they prefer to curate their own primary-source materials online.

Here’s where OER textbooks might help to make some change. If free materials with less input from politicians and more input from educators were available. But then this pushes the onus down to a different level with different political aspirations. I have to think that taking the politicization of these decisions at a state level would have to help.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:30AM

How Textbooks are Produced

  1. Authors, often academics, write a national version of each text.
  2. Publishers customize the books for states and large districts to meet local standards, often without input from the original authors.
  3. State or district textbook reviewers go over each book and ask publishers for further changes.
  4. Publishers revise their books and sell them to districts and schools.

This is an abominable process for history textbooks to be produced, particularly at mass scale. I get the need for broad standards, but for textbook companies to revise their books without the original authors is atrocious. Here again, individual teachers and schools should be able to pick their own texts if they’re not going to–ideally–allow their students to pick their own books.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:33AM

“The textbook companies are not gearing their textbooks toward teachers; they’re gearing their textbooks toward states,” she said.

And even at this they should be gearing them honestly and truthfully toward the students.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 11:39AM

Liked a tweet by Karen TongsonKaren Tongson (Twitter)
Listened to Hindsight Is 2019 from On the Media | WNYC Studios
We take a walk down memory lane, and ask ourselves some existential questions.

2019 started on a note of fakery, as we made sense of the conspiracies and simulacra that distort our information field. It's ending with a similar air of surreality, with impeachment proceedings bringing the dynamics of the Trump presidency into stark relief. Along the way, we've examined forces, deconstructed narratives, and found the racist core at the heart of so much of the American project. And as we've come to look differently at the world, we've come to look differently at ourselves.

With excerpts from:

  1. When The Internet is Mostly Fake, January 11th, 2019
  2. United States of Conspiracy, May 17th, 2019
  3. Trump Sees Conspiracies Everywhere, October 4th, 2019
  4. Understanding the White Power Movement, March 22nd, 2019
  5. Why "Send Her Back" Reverberated So Loudly, July 19th, 2019
  6. The Scarlet E, Part II: 40 Acres, June 14th, 2019
  7. Part 1: The Myth Of The Frontier, March 29th, 2019
  8. Empire State of Mind, April 5th, 2019
  9. The Perils of Laundering Hot Takes Through History, March 1st, 2019
Bookmarked Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana by Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross (Cambridge University Press )

How did Africans become 'blacks' in the Americas? Becoming Free, Becoming Black tells the story of enslaved and free people of color who used the law to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. Their communities challenged slaveholders' efforts to make blackness synonymous with slavery. Looking closely at three slave societies - Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana - Alejandro de la Fuente and Ariela J. Gross demonstrate that the law of freedom - not slavery - established the meaning of blackness in law. Contests over freedom determined whether and how it was possible to move from slave to free status, and whether claims to citizenship would be tied to racial identity. Laws regulating the lives and institutions of free people of color created the boundaries between black and white, the rights reserved to white people, and the degradations imposed only on black people.

Becoming Free, Becoming Black book cover

This is coming out in January, but I’ve managed to grab an advance reader copy for my holiday reading.
Read The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd by Jay RosenJay Rosen (PressThink)

That disinformation was going to overtake Republican politics was discoverable years before he says he discovered it.

Press Think logo card

I keep saying that anyone who has Kellyanne Conway or her ilk on their airwaves is actively suborning perjury in the public commons. Kudos to Jay Rosen on this excellent piece.

It’s honestly hard to believe that even Christianity Today seems to have come around on  some of the truth of what is happening before Chuck Todd has.

I’m glad that at least Chuck Todd knows/understands what is happening now and may change course to help protect it. Perhaps he needs to spend a few days with George Lakoff to attempt an intervention and a solution?

Looking back at our history of reportage of white power/white nationalism will provide some additional immediate ideas. WNYC’s On the Media has had some great material in the last few years on these topics:

One might suggest, “just replace the word ‘racist’ with ‘Republicans'” in these stories, but I think many of them have generally done that for themselves already.

Read grandfather clause (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Grandfather clause, statutory or constitutional device enacted by seven Southern states between 1895 and 1910 to deny suffrage to African Americans. It provided that those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1866 or 1867, and their lineal descendants, would be exempt from recently enacted educational, property, or tax requirements for voting. Because the former slaves had not been granted the franchise until the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, those clauses worked effectively to exclude black people from the vote but assured the franchise to many impoverished and illiterate whites.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1915 that the grandfather clause was unconstitutional because it violated equal voting rights guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment, it was not until Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that Congress was able to put an end to the discriminatory practice. The act abolished voter prerequisites and also allowed for federal supervision of voter registration. With the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the Fifteenth Amendment was finally enforceable.

I hadn’t known about the racist related background of this phrase. I’ll have to work to remove it from personal use.
Read HEWN, No. 335 by Audrey Watters (hewn.substack.com)
I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week about how bad ideas in ed-tech spread. Obviously, a key way is via the media. Take this NYT story for example: “The Machines Are Learning, and So Are the Students.”
A great example of whitewashing in edtech pointed out here.

I also recommend that NYT response about the 1619 project. 

Read Against “Excellence” by Briallen Hopper (Avidly | Los Angeles Review of Books)
Harvard just denied tenure to an award-winning Latinx scholar and teacher who is working in the field of Latinx studies. (Yale did the same thing last year.) Thousands of students and scholars have already signed an open letter in protest. There is so much to say, and so much already eloquently being said, about the ways that, over and over and over, elite universities fail to support people of color and the fields of knowledge that center them. These repeated failures to recognize excellence in non-white forms demonstrate the systemic racism that pervades these institutions
Listened to There Goes the Neighborhood: Miami, Part 3 by Kai Wright and Nadege Green from The Stakes | WNYC Studios

Life and loss in Little Haiti, where residents find themselves in the path of a land rush.

Haitian migrants fled a violent dictatorship and built a new community in Miami’s Little Haiti, far from the coast and on land that luxury developers didn’t want. But with demand for up-market apartments surging, their neighborhood is suddenly attractive to builders. That’s in part because it sits on high ground, in a town concerned about sea level rise. But also, because Miami is simply running out of land to build upon. 

In the final episode of our series on “climate gentrification,” WLRN reporter Nadege Greene asks one man what it’s like to be in the path of a land rush. Before you listen, check out parts one and two.

In this episode, we hear from:

  • Louis Rosemont, artist in Little Haiti
  • Carl Juste, photojournalist for the Miami Herald
  • Ned Murray of Florida International University
  • Greg West, CEO of Zom Living development firm
  • Jane Gilbert, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Miami

“NYC

Reported and produced by Kai Wright and Nadege Green. This is the final installment of a three-part series produced in partnership with WLRN in Miami. WNYC’s health coverage is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Working to build a Culture of Health that ensures everyone in America has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. More at RWJF.org.

Overall a great series, but their narrative was weakened a bit for me in this final episode with the discussion of the myriad of other economic factors that could potentially be at play. Exactly how much do climate change and gentrification play in the displacement of Little Haiti? What percentage?