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8th Graders’ Slavery Reenactment Exercise Discontinued After Outrage

By  Tyler Dahnke

Take a moment and remember what it was like being in the 8th grade. You’re 13 years old, pimply and awkward, unsure of yourself, and still growing as a person. The authorities in your life are your parents and teachers, and young as you are, you have no choice but to rely on their guidance. Now imagine that during history class, you are forced by a teacher to have your hands bound with masking tape, and made to lie down on the floor of a dark classroom, shoulder to shoulder with your peers. Imagine you didn’t know this was coming. Now imagine you’re a black child being forced through this ordeal.

This isn’t some middle schooler’s nightmare, although it sure reads like one, at least until the video clips from Roots start playing. This surprise “slave ship reenactment” — which, according to CBS Los Angeles, has been going on in 8th grade classrooms at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California for the last ten years — was recently brought to light by a disturbed mother, Shardé Carrington, after she received an email from her child’s teacher informing her of the upcoming “Unique Learning Experience.”

Carrington told The Huffington Post that the teachers were “irresponsible at best, manipulative and dangerous at worst.” She continued, “As the mother of a black child, I feared that my son’s participation would lead him to experience trauma, perhaps at the cellular level, and have a visceral reaction of anger and fear during the exercise itself.”

While it’s obvious that no black child should ever be put through this over-the-top exercise to teach them to “appreciate” the plight of their ancestors, I would hope that normal, sane people would object to any child, of any color or ethnic background being put through this charade, which seems more like it’s intended to make a political point than teach history. Does anyone honestly expect these kids to understand the horror slaves went through from this pathetic exercise? Does lying on the ground watching Roots in the dark give them some profound insight into the pure misery caused by slavery? The children might be scared for a few moments until they realize it’s all just pretend, but once the confusion wears off, what did they actually learn?

Carrington continued to call the school out by pointing out their double standard, asking, “Would you simulate rape in order to encourage sensitivity toward survivors? Will children pretend to be in Japanese internment camps as well?”

Despite the intense criticism the school encountered since Carrington posted exchanges with school administrators on social media, Whitney High School’s first reaction was, predictably, to defend the exercise. The Huffington Post notes that school Principal, John Briquelet, in his response to Carrington, claimed that “the exercise came from a nationally recognized supplier of curriculum, and added that while he understood Carrington’s concerns for her son, the exercise was not designed to demean students.”

CBS reports that it has learned that the school has now decided to end the practice of slave ship reenactment.

Learning the history of slavery is incredibly important, but this kind of teaching isn’t helpful or healthy. Whitney High School’s disastrous methods are just another example of overzealous leftist teachers overstepping their role in the lives of the children they teach. The school system should not be in the business of terrifying kids through shock propaganda in an effort to further a political agenda; it should be in the business of teaching the next generation how to learn and to be successful in society.

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  • Education
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  • Slavery

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