March 4, 2011

Young Black Ohio Elementary School Student Forced to Play the 'Slave' in a Classroom 'Slave Auction'

Most people with commonsense would know that it is a bad idea to have young Jewish children role-playing as Holocaust victims as part of a social studies lesson. However, for some reason white teachers don't use that same commonsense when they are trying to teach young people about the peculiar American policy that condoned the enslavement of African people for centuries.

It happened a few years ago in Caldwell, New Jersey. It happened again this past Wednesday in Gahanna, Ohio.

Nikko Burton
Ten-year-old Nikko Burton was assigned by his Chapelfield Elementary School teacher to play an enslaved Black person for a social studies lesson in his fifth-grade class. To his credit, Nikko refused to take part in the simulated slave auction and was sent back to his desk.
"I ended up being a slave," said Burton, 10. "At first I didn't care, but after people were bidding on people it kind of made me a little mad and stuff."
Burton said that the students who were playing the part of master were told to feel the students playing slaves to see if they were worth buying.
"The masters got to touch people and do all sorts of stuff," Burton said. "They got to look in your mouth and feel your legs and stuff and see if you're strong and stuff."
His mother, Aneka Burton said that her son was humiliated.   She says the school should be more sensitive. School principal Scott Schmidt called her to apologize for what happened to her son. Schmidt said no harm was intended.

Burton says she appreciates the apology, but the exercise was inappropriate. The school district said in a statement Thursday that officials acted promptly once the concern was raised.

Nikko's teacher still hasn't apologized or shown any remorse for the lesson.

The problem is that white teachers and principals don't have any problem with assignments to market a pro-slavery message or to simulate a slave auction. I suspect that they would think twice if they had their precious little white children play-acting as the 'master' during a re-enactment of the many slave rebellions by folks like Nat Turner. Ya' think?


msladydeborah said...

This child has a good mother. I would of turned the entire school out over this type of incident.

This is definitely unacceptable and his mother should put the full court press on the teacher to make an accounting of her actions.

Villager said...

Lady D - I agree with you that the mother is behaving like a saint. However, the most impressive thing about this story to me was the remarkable manner in which the young man handled himself. Good home training!