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So, okay, maybe a small frenzy, because only a limited number of people are interested in the National Latin Exam, but if you are, this is what’s been going on:

  1. People asked the National Latin Exam people to start tracking how many people of color took the exam, and whether they were under-represented given the percentage of minorities at their school, and living in their area. But the National Latin Exam said no, partly for fear that students asked to identify themselves by race would be further marginalized and do worse on the exam.

Dani Bostick’s blog post laying this out

2. People asked the National Latin Exam people to change the tone of questions about slavery and women to make it clear that slavery and misogyny was – even back then – oppressive and bad. Too often the passages students are asked to translate treat slavery and misogyny as cute and funny, or as benefiting the victims in some way. The National Latin Exam has made some gestures in that direction.

Slavery in the Roman world
Women in ancient Rome

3. Yesterday, people on Twitter posted images of newsgroup comments (from a high school Latin teacher) making it clear that at least some people at the National Latin Exam viewed these changes as annoying and wrong. They said they had only made the changes in response to pressure, and wow was this a nuisance. Apparently they don’t understand – or don’t want to understand – that the problem isn’t showing slavery, but misrepresenting slavery to make it seem like a pretty good deal for the enslaved people.

4. Now Classics professors are wondering whether the National Latin Exam’s position on diversity is fake? not sincere? Maybe this would be a great time for them to clarify what this post means, and where they stand.

5. Just to be clear, one of the core reasons why I write and maintain Study Guides is to fight racism and sexism in history. This episode shows why that’s so important.

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