In order to make sure that slavery never again occurs in American society, it’s important to bring up its horrors every chance you get. Or if you’re a teacher at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California, to subject your students against their will to what living as a slave might have been like – darkness, duct tape, and all.
According to reports, eighth-grade student Timothy Reyes had a lot to tell his parents after having his hands forcibly taped together as part of a “slave ship” reenactment during one of his classes. Reyes’ mother says she had earlier received an email from her son’s teacher explaining that he would be participating in a “unique classroom activity,” but had no idea that it would be anything like this.
The nature of this “unique classroom activity” was not disclosed because the teacher explained that it was going to be a “surprise.” But parents never could have anticipated what would come next, as their children were forced to lie down in the darkness while watching clips from the show “Roots,” a History Channel drama that supposedly documents the plight of early black slaves.
CBS Los Angeles reports that Reyes and his fellow students were instructed to line up and go through with the alleged reenactment as outlined by the teacher. It appears as though they were not given the option to not participate, just as the slaves of old were not given the option to not be slaves.
After hearing from many upset parents about the event, the school decided to axe it from the curriculum. LaMonica Bryson, a teacher at Whitney High School, agreed that it probably was not the best way to teach students about slavery, nor did it serve the intended purpose of expanding students’ understanding of American history.
“I think there are other ways to teach tolerance and maybe even better ways and best practices to broach these sensitive topics,” Bryson told the local media.
Many of the students expressed similar sentiments, including Kaleem Syed who told CBS Los Angeles the following:
“No you definitely don’t need to pretend to be a slave but it was another hands on experiment used to simulate slavery. Definitely not an effective way and there’s better alternatives than that.”
As horrifying as this experience may have been for students, especially those with health issues or histories of abuse, neither the teacher that instructed the reenactment nor any other faculty members appear to have suffered any consequences for their lack of judgment. The school simply called the whole thing off and moved on.
Meanwhile, a 70-year-old teacher by the name of Woody Hart was forced into retirement back in February after committing the heinous crime of showing a Confederate battle flag as part of a history lesson on the Civil War.
Hart had reportedly placed a Confederate flag on one side of the room and a Union flag on the other to depict the opposing sides, which was apparently a major no-no because students simply cannot be forced to look at the Confederate flag – not now, not ever! This was a much more serious violation, you see, because the Confederate flag might trigger someone with darker skin who is under the delusion that this symbol represented slavery as opposed to states’ rights.
In responding to why it released Hart from his duties, officials at Suttle Middle School declared, in complete ignorance, that the Confederate flag is “a racist symbol of hate,” and that was the end of it.
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