International Security

The Black American political experience as depicted in introductory political science textbooks

Lee Sigelman Jan 30 '08

In the current issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, Sherri L. Wallace and Marcus D. Allen analyze the portrayal of African Americans in 27 current introductory American government and politics textbooks.

Among the major points to emerge from their analysis:

* These texts treat “the African American political experience as separate from mainstream politics,” “relegating its discussions to a separate chapter on ‘civil rights’ or ‘equal rights.'”

* “Textbooks do not discuss African Americans as active agents [in the making of American democracy], if at all, until the civil rights movement when they are discussed as collective ‘recipients’ of government acton as opposed to collective ‘agents.'”

* “The African American struggle is still treated as separate from American government/politics. In our view, this sends the message to the reader than African Americans are not an integral parr of the American political experience. Such an ad hoc, selective, and fragmentary treatment of the African American political experience, in conjunction with overall minimal coverage in one chapter, tends to downplay their importance to the growth of democracy.”

For the full text of Wallace and Allen’s article, click here.