Texas Schools Replacing The Term ‘Slavery’ With ‘Involuntary Relocation’?

Texas educators have proposed changing the use of the term "slavery" in schools with "involuntary relocation," upsetting many.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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involuntary relocation

Imagine calling the enslavement of 10.7 million African Americans in the United States involuntary relocation rather than what it really was.  That is exactly what a group of educators suggested doing when discussing that history with schoolchildren in the state of Texas. It’s not exactly known why this change of term was presented, but it is outraging many, and turning heads throughout the nation. 

The Independent reported on this bizarre proposal, which depicted how a panel of nine educators submitted the idea to the Texas State Board of Education. This came as the state prepares to review its history curriculum for all 8,900 public schools, which it does once a decade. There were many proposed tweaks to the standards, but the one that stood out the most was their suggestion to replace any reference to the word slavery in textbooks to read as involuntary relocation. 

While not necessarily fictitious, to many Americans, the idea of renaming slavery as involuntary relocation makes it sound less atrocious. It is a blow to decades of progress in the United States. Furthermore, some feel it is a slippery slope from which critical race theory opponents are arguing for changes to the way history is presented in schools. 

Just last year, the Lone Star state introduced a piece of legislation banning critical race theory from public schools. Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott swiftly signed the bill into law, limiting how teachers can discuss the history of racism in the United States with schoolchildren. This law aims to ensure students aren’t deliberately taught to feel uncomfortable about their race. To opposers of this new education proposal, involuntary relocation sounds like another step in this movement. 

According to reports from The Texas Tribune late last week, the chair of the education board, Kevin Ellis, signified that the board would consider the proposals, but noted that they had been sent back to the educators for revision. Specifically, the board anonymously agreed that the educators needed to reconsider the specific language using the term involuntary relocation. This decision came after members of the board, and the public in general, vehemently attacked the proposal. 

Many Twitter users were quick to patronize the Texas group of educators who suggested this change to history teachings. Some even made note that they were aware the board had already sent the proposal back for revision, but still were appalled that it was suggested in the first place. One user mocked the term involuntary relocation, directing slavery to what it was, the “selling and buying of human beings”. They even questioned whether or not those educators realize that for many American families, slavery is, in fact, family history.

To make it perfectly clear that the Texas Education Agency was completely in disapproval of the proposal to replace the term slavery with involuntary relocation, the board released a statement on Twitter to assure the public that they, themselves, did not create this contentious proposal. As upset, and rightfully so, as many Americans are over this historical proposition, it likely will not be replaced in schools with the term involuntary relocation. But as the battle over critical race theory rages on for public education, it’s another sign of the striking changes being presented across the nation.