Criteria for Evaluating Materials on Africa
- Is Africa characterized as a country rather than a continent?
- Is North Africa treated as though it is not part of Africa?
- Is the focus primarily on the lifestyle of small, atypical groups (e.g., San, Massai)?
- Are the illustrations representative and non-stereotypical? Is diversity shown and described (e.g., rural/urban; wealthy/middle class; rich/poor; farmers/business)?
- Is there a balance between information on men and women? Are the problems that African women face placed in global contexts and accurately described?
- Is history presented in chronological stages beginning with the early and ancient times, or is the primary focus on the colonial period and the actions of Europeans in Africa?
- Are offensive, inaccurate, or biased terms used?
Inaccurate/offensive terms: native, hut, jungle, witch doctor, dialect, primitive, warlike, uncivilized, pagan, tribe.
Inaccurate/offensive names for groups: Bantu (correct: Bantu-speaking), Pygmy (correct: Mbuti); Bushmen (correct: San or hunter-gatherers); Hottentot (correct: Khoikhoi).
Words reflecting Western bias: developing, underdeveloped, civilized, emerging, backward, non-white, non-Western, Black African, communist.
- Are Africans described as “animists” who worship trees, rocks, or insects?
- Are “folktales” over-represented in elementary collections?
- Do materials reflect African viewpoints and perspectives?
- Do collections and curricula reflect an infusion of knowledge about Africa into various disciplines and subjects?
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