After reading the selections for this week’s class (Wright, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow,” “Big Boy Leaves Home,” “Down by the Riverside,” and “Long Black Song” in Uncle Tom’s Children; Selections from Langston Hughes, The Ways of White Folks, “Home” and “Father and Son”; and, Gretchen Sorin and Mary Aimonovitch, Through the Eyes of Others.), I couldn’t help but think of the current media firestorm over the Texas State Board of Educations ruling on new social study standards pushing Texas textbooks in a more “right” direction.
Regardless of your political views, going through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Archive’s is a real treat.
After listening to several sections of meetings held over the last year, I was shocked by how far the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE) was willing to water-down American history. I was especially appalled by certain board member’s quests to eradicate representations of minorities.
In an April 22, 2009 meeting, a board member, Bill Ames, told the board that he felt that there was too much emphasis on America’s negative past and those groups who helped enforce that view.
His direct quote is: “…I contend that there is an overrepresentation of minority content. And that’s all TEKS driven. The specific TEKS say ‘the problems of women,’ ‘the problems of immigrants,’ ‘the problems of minorities.’ There is nothing in the current TEKS that talks about celebrating America’s positive successes.” 
The TSEB recently sanctified this view, along with other historical gems like keeping note-worthy Hispanics or social leaders out of the textbooks, by a 10-5 vote, along party lines. 
So, why does this matter? I’m sure that debates like this happen all over the nation on various topics within history and the press gives it little to no air time. The problem with Texas is that they have a perceived (there seems to be some debate about how exactly influential Texas is) dominance in the textbook market. Why? Texas’s education standards are notoriously demanding about what textbooks can and cannot teach students. This, coupled with the fact that Texas is the second largest textbook buyer in the nation, makes for a potent truth: make your textbook Texas friendly and you have yourself a lucrative business. 
It also matters because there have been a rash of “noose” incidents within the last decade, most recently from the University of California San Diego where racists outbreaks led to a student leaving a noose in the campus’s library. In many of these cases, those who left nooses defended themselves that they simply had a lack of judgment and didn’t think clearly (aka, know enough) about all the symbolism involved. Personally, I believe that to be a weak defense; however, if textbooks and history standards only reinforce the “positive” side of American history and leave out those “problems” facing America’s past…who really is to blame?
Throughout our reading this week, violence and the crisis of Black identity in “White” world were major themes in the literature. Wright and Hughes exposed the vast nuances of the time of their characters; no character tells a typical or simple story of the Black experience in America simply because there is no typical story of the Black experience in America. From Wright’s characters struggle to fit the accepted “Black” mold to those characters of Hughes’s who are divorced from both their Black and White world—all stories end in horrifying, gut-wrenching violence.
Wright and Hughes show the nuances. History is nuanced. We, as a society, should be striving to learning and bring to light these nuances. Nuance isn’t a bad thing. While I understand that you cannot include every nuance within a standardized textbook, I also think you shouldn’t run away from it. By ignoring the nuances and refusing to show that they are there, we are only creating more “problems” for the future—for you, me, and everybody.
If teachers, textbooks, etc. taught more about the “problems of minorities,” maybe it would become less about minorities’ problems and more about the problems America is still trying to overcome.
 “Archived Audio Files,” January 19, 2010, http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=4473. Click April 22, Committee on Instruction. TEKS stands for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
 James C. Mckinley Jr, “Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change,” The New York Times, March 12, 2010, sec. Education, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html.
 Brian Thevenot, “The Tipping Point: Texas Textbook Politics Meets the Digital Revolution,” The Texas Tribune, November 6, 2009, http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2009/nov/06/tipping-point-texas-textbook-politics-meets-digital-revolution/.