Criteria for Evaluating Materials on Africa

  1. Is Africa characterized as a country rather than a continent?
  2. Is North Africa treated as though it is not part of Africa?
  3. Is the focus primarily on the lifestyle of small, atypical groups (e.g., San, Massai)?
  4. Are the illustrations representative and non-stereotypical? Is diversity shown and described (e.g., rural/urban; wealthy/middle class; rich/poor; farmers/business)?
  5. Is there a balance between information on men and women? Are the problems that African women face placed in global contexts and accurately described?
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

  1. Are Africans described as “animists” who worship trees, rocks, or insects?
  2. Are “folktales” over-represented in elementary collections?
  3. Do materials reflect African viewpoints and perspectives?
  4. Do collections and curricula reflect an infusion of knowledge about Africa into various disciplines and subjects?

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