Parents are understandably upset when their grade school children were taught about colonization and the slave trade by participating in a mock slave auction.
The incident occurred earlier this month at Jefferson Elementary School’s fifth-grade class in Maplewood, New Jersey, under the supervision of a substitute teacher at a time when the class’s regular teacher was undergoing a medical procedure.
Clip via CBS2
Parents were appalled.
“There was a sale of a black child by white children in the classroom. If you’re demoralized, if you’re sold on a block in 2017 in a fifth-grade class, it may affect you for the rest of your life,” parent Tracey Jarmon-Woods told WCBS Channel 2 News.
“When we’re dealing with the Holocaust, we would never put Jewish kids in two lines and say, ‘you go to the left, you go to the right’ as an assignment,” she added.
The school’s principal sent a letter out to the parents explaining that the impromptu auction wasn’t part of the class’s lesson plan and was held by a substitute instructor.
“The activity was not part of the curriculum, not part of the teacher’s assignment, not condoned by the classroom teacher, and not authorized by the district,” the principal’s letter said.
However, district Superintendent Dr. John Ramos told parents at a Monday night meeting that the substitute teacher didn’t intend to humiliate the students.
“There was no intent to be provocative or demeaning,” he said, “The context is important to know.”
At about the same time as the slave auction incident, another fifth-grade teacher within the same school district came under fire for a homework assignment to make a poster advertising a slave auction.
“We’re always in damage control, and it’s getting absurd honestly,” student BOE member Filip Saulean said.
Earlier this month another mock slave auction was held by a white professor at the traditionally black Howard University, which left people on social media appalled.
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