Antiracism Textbook Taskforce Call
This is a Call for Participation to become a member of a new Antiracism Textbook Taskforce, which will be an aspect of the ASU CISA School’s drive to further Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice throughout ASU, its’ communities, and the world at large. The Antiracism Textbook Taskforce (ATTF) will aim to ferret out racism, implied racism, ethnocentrism, and micro-aggressions in scholastic textbooks currently being utilized at the JHS and HS educational levels, in order to weigh on publishers of problematic textbooks flagged by the ATTF to immediately halt and change their publications.
The work of the taskforce will begin with each member finding and choosing a JHS/HS level textbook from a major publisher being currently utilized locally or nationally to examine for racism, implied racism, ethnocentrism, and/or micro-aggressions in text or images. Thus at first, the work of the ATTF will be a bit like a book club, with each member bringing to the table passages from their chosen textbook that they have deemed problematic. The taskforce will then vote on which textbooks to flag and move forward with to the next step – weighing on publishers to immediately halt and change their problematic publications. There is also the potential for the ATTF to serve local school districts in an advisory role, vetting their textbook choices and offering the ATTF’s seal of approval if earned.
In my experience, weighing on major corporate publishers to change their problematic publications is the most direct and likely way to gain traction on a program for pro-social change in scholastic textbooks, while also avoiding the insular and polemical debates that tend to occur at the local level. I have some deep experience with a successful ASU and community based effort to weigh on Pearson Publishing – the largest purveyor of educational textbooks in the nation – to remove racist imaging from their Sociology 101 college textbook in 2020. Pearson not only immediately halted publication of the flagged textbook, the company also called in previously distributed versions of the textbook, and further committed to changing their hiring practices so as to deeply increase the diversity of their editorial committees overseeing textbook publication. We remain engaged with Pearson Company to assess whether they are following through on their commitments. The techniques that were developed and successfully deployed to weigh on Pearson Publishing in 2020 will now be utilized by the ATTF in its work during 2021 and thereafter.
Join the ATTF
For the ASU CISA ATTF we are seeking a highly diverse and widely representative panel of Professors and Educators to become members. Ideally, each will bring to the table an already highly developed social media presence, as social media will be the main tool that the ATTF deploys in order to weigh on publishers to make the changes the taskforce requests. The idea is to hit the publisher of a flagged textbook where it hurts most – reputation – which in turn can damage their revenue in unforeseeable and immediate ways.
If you would like to become a member of the ASU CISA ATTF in 2021, please respond to this email with a brief description of why you are interested and why you believe you will be an effective member of the taskforce. The ATTF will be organized with myself as initial chair under the auspices of the ASU CISA Inclusion Committee which is overseen by Associate Dean Asao Inoue. We plan to field a panel of approximately nine members for the ATTF and convene (likely over Zoom) to begin our work within the next few weeks. We hope to hear from interested parties soon!
Have Questions or Want to Get Involved?
To get involved, please reach out to Dr. Joshua Kane – Lecturer, CISA Social Science