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Summer Break: Two Activist/Authors Named Beverly: Beverly Bell on Haiti and Food Sovereignty, Beverly Slapin Satirizes Racist Textbooks

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In a break from our usual fare, in-depth interviews with Beverly Bell of the Institute for Policy Studies on Haiti after the earthquake and the related topic of “food sovereignty”; Beverly Hope Slapin fights racism in American textbooks with satire.Click here for GoDaddy deal that benefits the PBC podcast, or “oddcast”, as some call it!

Bell is a longtime lover of Haiti, who spent a number of years there before the devastating earthquake in January, 2010.  To counter what she sees as false narratives and depictions of Haitians, her book, Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide, brings many authentic Haitian voices to readers.  In snapshots at 6-month intervals, she relates the ongoing problems that are complicated by the power of outside “humanitarian” efforts, starting with the US military forces who blocked NGO supply planes from landing at the airport.

We talk about Naomi Klein’s theories of  “disaster capitalism” and how Haiti is being remade into a corporate-friendly low-wage manufacturing center–a huge sweatshop– under the influence of Bill Clinton’s UN post and his public-private partnerships fostered by his foundation.  Bell is also critical of Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State, interfering in the most recent elections in Haiti, and allows that she is not “ready for Hillary” as president.  Haiti has a long agrarian history, and now is dependent on imports and Monsanto mandates for its food supply.

This leads to a second book that Bell co-authored with Tory Field, Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land and Agricultural Systems in the Americas, as Bell explains the concept of  “food sovereignty”.

About 53 minutes in, we talk with Beverly Hope Slapin, who has been fighting against racism and revisionism in American textbooks.  Back in the early 1990’s, she was active in an effort to revise a Houghton-Mifflin social studies text, which led her to research other educational materials.

Turning to satire, she has just published a second edition of Basic Skills Caucasian Americans Workbook,  a direct parody of the “Basic Skills Native Americans Workbook”, which demeans Native Americans and compresses their history into silly, inaccurate accounts.  In our conversation, we give examples from the original texts and the parody, which trivializes Caucasians in a similar way, hoping to help the declining majority recognize our misrepresentations of others.

Slapin offers these links to resources on these issues:

American Indians in Children’s Literature/ Debbie Reese (


Asian American Curriculum Project/ Florence and Moss Hongo



Cooperative Children’s Book Center (


De Colores (


Education for Liberation/ Tara Mack (


Middle East Children’s Alliance/ Barbara Lubin



Northwest Teaching for Social Justice (


Rethinking Schools (, (


Teaching for Change/ Deborah Menkart (


Teachers 4 Social Justice (


Zinn Education Project (