Is the AP World History Book Racist?

My daughter is taking AP World History and tonight she came to us simply appalled by the context of her textbook.

“The textbook just can’t say anything bad about white people,” she explained. Then she read me the offending sentence

From the time of Columbus, indigenous populations had been compelled to provide labor for European settlers in the Americas .

“They just can’t say what really happened, that they were enslaved by European settlers in the Americas,” she says angrily.

“Not once did they say they were slaves, “forced labor, Encomienda, terrible working conditions, forced to provide them with labor, textiles, food or other goods – so they basically stole their shit -, but not once did they use the word slavery.”  (Later she finds the textbook does use the word, but only when speaking about Brazil).

She went on. The textbook had one paragraph explaining how the Catholic Church oppressed the native population, including using torture and executions. But right after that brief paragraph, they spend three paragraphs exonerating the Catholic Church from the evils they caused:

Despite its failures, the Catholic clergy did provide native peoples with some protections against the abuse and exploitation of Spaniard settlers.

“Failures?” asks my daughter. “They call torture, slavery and executions “failures”?

“It’s not like the book was written in 1980, it was published in 2008,” she says frustrated. (The book is the 4th edition, there is a 6th edition now, but her School District decided to spend money building fences that make the schools look like jails, and huge TV screens teachers use rather than buying books.

She goes on reading, and gets to the part about Brazil.  She grows more appalled:

“It’s so sickening, they actually talk about them like they are animals.”

Although African slaves at first cost much more than Amerindian slaves, planters found them to be more productive and more resistant to disease.

“It sounds like a commercial: ‘Get rid of your Native American slaves, get some African ones – they will be more productive and resistant to disease, buy them now.’  It’s literally what it sounds like.”



Free Advice to Hillary Clinton on How to Attract Sanders’ Supporters


To the consternation of many of his supporters, Bernie Sanders endorsed Clinton last Tuesday. While many Berners understand why Sanders’ needed to do so and are supportive of his Plan B, they are not willing to vote for Clinton. A new poll shows that only 39% of millennial Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton, and the percentage is only a little higher among Sanders supporters of all ages.

Clinton’s national poll numbers reflect that. The fact that most American voters would prefer Trump or a Giant Meteor to land and destroy America over Clinton becoming President, should give her pause.

So here is some free advice for Hillary Clinton on how she can actually convince Bernie supporters to vote for her:

Defeat the TPP

Right now, Sanders supporters are coalescing on their opposition to the TPP.  They know that Clinton supports it – she manifested her support by blocking any negative references to the TPP from appearing in the Democratic platform – and they will not vote for a President that supports doing away with labor, environmental and human rights protections through the backdoor that the TPP represents.

We all know that the current plan is that Obama will push the TPP through the lame duck session of Congress. If Clinton wants Berners’ votes, she will have to convince all Democratic Senators and Congressmembers that are planning to vote for it and who, coincidentally, are also her superdelegates, to change their positions.

If she doesn’t have the political pull to do this, then there is no reason to believe that she would honor any of the progressive planks in the new Democratic platform. Sanders’ supporters are not stupid.

Swear off militarism

Clinton is a hawk who has supported wars and coups d’etat.  She considers Henry Kissinger – a man who is responsible for committing crimes against humanity – a friend and advisor. She fought to keep a threat to militarily attack Iran in the Democratic platform. To anyone concerned with peace and human rights, the prospects of a Clinton presidency is even scarier than a Trump presidency.

If she wants those votes, she needs to give up on her militaristic impulses and swear off to war and military interventions abroad.

Detangle herself from Wall Street

Berners know that Clinton has made a devil’s bargain with Wall Street: they fill her pockets, she fights for their interests. If she wants Berners’ votes she needs to be willing to break that bargain. First, of course, she will need to acknowledge it and she will need to release the transcripts of her speeches. Then, she’ll need to say that despite their money, she will turn back on them and do what’s best for the American people.

As with TPP, part of the allure of Donald Trump is that he is actually willing to go back on his word and betray anyone he’s made a deal with – while that surely includes voters, Clinton seems to only be willing to betray voters, and keep her word to her big contributors. She needs to change that perception.

Choose a progressive VP

If she chooses Tim Kaine, it’s a nonstarter. A progressive VP will at least give hopes to Berners that there will be someone in the ticket to keep her accountable.

The author, Margarita Lacabe, is a Sanders delegate from California to the Democratic National Convention.

Help Marga Lacabe (me) go to Philly

I’m a human rights activist (mostly focusing on Latin American) and a newly re-elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.  I’m an ardent Berniecrat and I’ve just been selected to be a California PLEO (“party leader and elected official”) delegate for Bernie!  I couldn’t feel more humbled and more honored.

I believe that the Democratic party has an incredible opportunity this July in Philadelphia: to stand up for the principles that it claims to advance: human rights and social justice, a clean and healthy planet, peace and the rule of law, equality and a real democracy.  It could – at least in theory – reject the corruptive influence of big money, choose principle over campaign contributions, and support the one candidate that actually stands up for regular people: Bernie Sanders.  That is the message I will bring to Philadelphia.

Please help me cover the exorbitant travel costs.  Hotel rooms at the convention hotel are $650 a night (plus tax) and the rest of Philly seems to be booked already!

You can make a paypal contribution here*

Thank you in advance for your generosity,


*NOTE: Please DO NOT contribute if:

  • You are NOT a US citizen or a permanent resident (it’s against the law)
  • You are a federal contractor (also against the law)
  • You are not an actual person (corporations & labor unions are prohibited from contributing)
  • You will be up for the Democratic endorsement in Alameda county in the November election (I will be voting to endorse candidates and it would create a conflict of interests).

My Tango: Margot

MargotDid you know that I have my own tango?  Indeed, I do.  OK, it was written by Celedonio Flores back in 1921, almost half a decade before I was born, but it is my tango anyway.  While the name Margarita is common in many Latin American countries, it wasn’t very popular when I was a child in Argentina (I was named after my grandmother who was actually a Margaret, not a Margarita, but you could only give your children Spanish-language names in Argentina back then).  So I never met another Margarita until I came to the US.

“Margot” is a very famous tango, and as the only Margarita around, whenever people heard my name, they were reminded of the tango.  No matter that I was a young child and this tango involves the life of a girl who has become a prostitute – that is a very common theme for tangos.  Indeed, even my 5th grade teacher took to calling me Margot.  I did not take offense.

I’ve looked for a translation of Margot to English, but I couldn’t find it.  So I’ve tried to translate it myself.  Unfortunately, this tango like most other tangos, uses a lot of lunfardo and while I know quite a bit of lunfardo due to listening to tangos, I don’t know the precise nuance of every word – much less the perfect word with which to translate it into English.  So it’s just a best, fast effort.  Please leave comments below and I’ll use them to improve the translation.

Meanwhile here is my tango, Margot:

One can tell from afar, you well heeled tramp,
that you were born in the squalor of tenement in the barrio…
Because there is something that betrays you, I don’t know if it is your eyes,
your way of sitting, of looking, of standing
or that body so used to percale clothes.

That body that today moves to the tempting beats
of a street tango in the arms of some idiot,
while your curves and your colorful dress triumph,
among the laughter and compliments of your fan boys,
amidst the smoke of Cuban cigars and French champagne.

It’s a lie, it wasn’t an indolent and high handed tough guy
nor a dangerous pimp who led you to vice…
You rolled on your own and it wasn’t innocently…
Obsessions of wealth that you had in  your mind
from the day that a high class magnate flirted with you!

I remember, you had barely anything to wear,
today you wear silk dresses with rococo roses,
I hate your presence… I’d pay to not see you…
they have even changed your name, as your fortune has changed:
you are no longer my Margarita, now they call you Margot!

Now you go with the idiots to act all posh
in an luxurious reserved booth at the Petit or the Julien,
and your mother, your poor mother, washes the whole week
to be able to fill her soup pot, with Franciscan poverty,
in the sad tenement house, lit with kerosene.

Se te embroca desde lejos, pelandruna abacanada,
que has nacido en la miseria de un convento de arrabal…
Porque hay algo que te vende, yo no sé si es la mirada,
la manera de sentarte, de mirar, de estar parada
o ese cuerpo acostumbrado a las pilchas de percal.

Ese cuerpo que hoy te marca los compases tentadores
del canyengue de algún tango en los brazos de algún gil,
mientras triunfa tu silueta y tu traje de colores,
entre risas y piropos de muchachos seguidores
entre el humo de los puros y el champán de Armenonville.

Son macanas, no fue un guapo haragán ni prepotente
ni un cafisho de averías el que al vicio te largó…
Vos rodaste por tu culpa y no fue inocentemente…
¡berretines de bacana que tenías en la mente
desde el día que un magnate cajetilla te afiló!

Yo recuerdo, no tenías casi nada que ponerte,
hoy usas ajuar de seda con rositas rococó,
¡me reviente tu presencia… pagaría por no verte…
si hasta el nombre te han cambiado como has cambiado de suerte:
ya no sos mi Margarita, ahora te llaman Margot!

Ahora vas con los otarios a pasarla de bacana
a un lujoso reservado del Petit o del Julien,
y tu vieja, ¡pobre vieja! lava toda la semana
pa’ poder parar la olla, con pobreza franciscana,
en el triste conventillo alumbrado a kerosén.