Racially Insensitive, Dated Encyclopedia Entry
My neighbor came to my door a few days ago carrying a box full of encyclopedias that belonged to her when she was a girl. She decided that, since I homeschool, I could put them to good use. I don’t really want any more books, but she had that expectant look on her face that said “See how helpful I’m being?” To which all I could respond was “Wow! Thanks for the encyclopedias!” She’s a nice lady, and I appreciate the thought, but now I own a set of 50 year old encyclopedias for which I have no practical use—except as blog fodder! Yipee… (trailing off into silence).
The thing that makes broad ranging encyclopedias problematic is that, with time, the generalized summaries of many of the entries become, or even start off being, irrelevant, dated, or outright wrong. Encyclopedias are a lot like dictionaries. Words gradually either change meanings over the years or die; new words are added every year, and our language, with each generation, changes enough that older people sound stuffy to younger people. Encyclopedias likewise need constant updates to stay relevant. That’s why I decided to read the encyclopedias for myself before I let the boys study them. I’m grateful that I did because I found one entry in particular that is astonishingly dated. It’s the entry about the “Races of Mankind”. I’m going to let you interpret most of it for yourself. However I can’t resist pointing out that it appears the only civilized race is that of the Caucasoid. The white guy is standing in front of a big, modern, Frank Lloyd Wright looking dwelling while the Mongoloid is in front of some 15th century pagoda thing, and the Negroid is in front of a straw hut. If I were a black or Asian guy, I might feel a little insulted by that depiction. The pictures make everybody except whites (a few of whom do not live in mansions) look silly. It’s not a bad thing to live in a straw hut, and plenty of Africans do; but then, to make all things equal, the typical white person house should be a crappy apartment. And I’ve never known a single Asian to live in an upside down ice cream cone.
Okay – here it is: click on it and it’ll get bigger.