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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.” – Eighth-grade student Kaleem Syed.

Students at Whitney High School were enslaved for a day.

Administrators at the California high school made a terrible decision while trying to teach students about the horrors of slavery: They tied the wrists of eighth-grade students with duct tape, they stuck them in a dark room, told them to lie on the floor shoulder-to-shoulder to simulate the inhumane conditions aboard a slave ship – and then showed them a clip of “Roots.”

[Teachers from Whitley High School in Cerritos, California suggested role-playing earlier this month: Students would be enslaved Africans and teachers would be slave ship captains.


Parents were outraged – and for good reason. What were these teachers thinking? Aren’t their better ways to teach students about slavery? Pretending to enslave African-American students — and other kids of teenagers of color — is seriously misguided, racially insensitive and just plain ignorant.

Instead of teaching students about slavery, teachers succeeded in causing anxiety and stress for students and parents – and then ultimately pulled the lesson plan form the school curriculum. It should have never been implemented in the first place.

One African-American parent, Shardé Carrington, told The Huffington Post that she received an email from Whitney High School administrators about a “unique learning experience.”

Carrington posted the email from the school on Facebook.

“Specifically, when class starts, we will sternly tell them to line up outside the classroom, use masking tape to ‘tie’ their wrists together, make them lay on the ground inside the room (which will be dark) shoulder to shoulder with each other (boys and girls are in separate rows), and then while they lay there, have them watch a clip from ‘Roots.’”

“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,” Carrington to The Huffington Post.

I’m glad Carrington spoke out. She called the ridiculous lesson “irresponsible at best, manipulative and dangerous at worst.” She also sent an email to the school expressing her outrage.

Carrington didn’t allow her child to participate in the lesson. I agree with Carrington, I wouldn’t allow my daughter to participate either.

“Would you simulate rape in order to encourage sensitivity toward survivors? Will children pretend to be in Japanese internment camps as well?” Carrington asked.

Great questions. Carrington called the teachings “demeaning and grossly insensitive.”

I remain confused by the school’s response because Derek Jeans, the chair of Whitney’s social studies department, defended the school’s ill-advised exercise.

“I, as department chair of our social studies department, brought this exercise to Whitney about 10 years ago, and have had almost universal appreciation for it in the way that we do not minimize the experience of slavery, but rather attempt in a very small manor [sic], to bring a more personal understanding of such a tragic and terrible event that occurred in our history, Jeans said.

But LaMonica Bryson, a Whitney High English teacher, agreed with the decision to pull the lesson from the school.

“I think there are other ways to teach tolerance and maybe even better ways and best practices to broach these sensitive topics,” Bryson told reporters.

Meanwhile, Carrington was perplexed and frustrated.

And I get it.

“The teachers promised no psychological harm would be inflicted, but you cannot predict how anyone will respond to being bound in the dark and viewing traumatic images,” Carrington told the HuffPost. “In a world where trigger warnings are becoming commonplace, to send an unwitting child to school to participate in a cruel activity such as this is just wrong for anyone.”

Which begs the question: Are these teachers racially insensitive or just generally clueless?

What do you think?

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18 thoughts on “Slave For A Day: How One Teacher’s Lesson Went Very Wrong

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  2. Lone Wolf on said:

    Without a doubt this so called teacher is a moron to think this would be an acceptable learning experiment. With that being said, the truth is most African Americans are still slaves, not physically, but mentally slaves. Once again, generally speaking most African Americans are running around playing the slave-based race card acting as if 100 year old Confederate statues and cotton plants have them so distraught. If these things have you distraught then you have been thoroughly brainwash and are a MENTAL SLAVE of the Democrat party.
    No African-American alive today was ever a slave on a plantation. Only a few have ever picked cotton, and the majority of African-Americans have never actually seen a cotton field in real life. With African-Americans today not having any experience with slavery whatsoever, why are we pursuing these fake political issues? We are pursuing fake issues because the Uncle Toms in the DEMOCRAT PARTY wants you to pursue fake issues to keep you as their MENTAL SLAVES.
    QUESTION: Have you ever wondered why our Democrat politicians, teachers, athletes, entertainers, and so called journalist have not called for protest and marches for REAL ISSUES AFFECTING AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES across this nation like the following?
    1) African-American students’ horrific academic performance and the highest dropout rate of any racial group attending public institutions, regardless family wealth.
    2) The lack of economic development in Black communities that would provide jobs for Blacks in their communities.
    3) African-American communities being used for mass distribution of illegal and highly addictive drugs, and the majority of the drugs being sold by Blacks to Blacks.
    4) Thousands of Black men being murdered yearly by other Black men. (Compare that with the dozen or so murdered by White cops every years. Which is the greater problem?)
    5) The promotion of sex, drugs, thuggery and violence in nearly 80% of entertainment & advertising geared specifically toward African Americans.
    6) 70% of children born out of wedlock, but more importantly the fathers’ not involved in helping to raise these children. (This is the foundational issue as to why the other exists. Destroy the family, then it’s easier to destroy the culture and its people — Lone Wolf)
    ANSWER: If African Americans protested against these real issues they would be protesting against Democrats. 1) Predominately Black public schools, esp. in major cities, are run by Democrats. 2) The rundown, crime ridden, drug infested communities are governed and run by Democrats. 3) The music industry, movie industry, television programming, sport media, main-stream media (except FOX) are all run by Democrats.
    Because of my statements above most here would call me (Lone Wolf) an Uncle Tom or a self-hating Black. THE TRUTH based on all that I have presented to you, your Democrat politicians, teachers, athletes, entertainers, and so called journalist are the real Uncle Tom, as they are helping your master, the Democrat Party, keep African-Americans as a mental slave and the communities where most live in horrific condition. ARE YOUR EYES OPEN YET? Baaaaaaaa!!!

    • Manetric Douglas on said:

      So to the issue w/the statutes: Correct me if I am wrong but what most people were upset by was the fact that in this day and age those traitors are still on pedestals and the white-washing of the atrocious things they did and what they were fighting for. And to the cotton plants, IDK about that one but there are too many non-POC having dinners based on stereotypes about poc so I think that’s where the controversy is coming from with that. But who the hell goes around saying, oh I love that cotton plant in that lovely vase! And I’d rather be a mental slave of the Democratic Party which actually tries to make a difference then the republican plantation where I’m nothing until they need a token representative to cover themselves from fire.

      It’s not about being an actual slave the issue (if I am understanding you right) is the fact that all the hatred/bitterness/anger/fear etc from that time period is the same crap we are dealing with today. Not only that but all the inequality from slavery days is a problem today that still hasn’t been eradicated. Meaning there is no true equality for POC except for a few. Why do you feel it’s a fake political issue? Aren’t we still fighting for voting rights in 2017 after the passage of VRA in the 60’s? Aren’t we still re-litigating the fights of our ancestors?!

      I’m not sure who you are listening to but almost all the black folk I know and interact with have major complaints with the democratic party in regards to race (Donna Edwards who was running for the senate in Connecticut, black women’s take on the women’s march during trumps inauguration and many other examples) but when you look at how the republican party does…do you really feel that there is a comparison. Also there are plenty of black journalists following those issues and highlighting it. But you’d have to lay that at the feet of the media and the people that own them.

      1) Again this issue is a state and federal level. You see states taking money from schools in POC/poor areas and people are protesting and fighting with all they can. Let’s not act like it’s all poor parenting. They arrest parents for lying abt address to send kids to a better school but the school in their area is looking like dangerous minds (with coolio and michelle Pfeiffer) with school books a decade behind. But there are statistics that show when you have quality teachers and money kids perform better. Check out the Tindley schools here in Indianapolis, IN. They are in predominately poor/black neighborhoods and showing EXCELLENCE.
      2) Again a state issue. My father is a black business man in the painting business and I hear many in his similar situation complaining that the white or fake minority companies (ususally in their wife’s name) that are getting all the state/federal contracts. Also the issue with banking and getting loans while being a POC. I’m not one to put all the blame on the white man but I do believe in telling the truth. Let’s not pretend like their shoes aren’t on the back of our necks when it comes to bettering ourselves. Remember Black Wall Street and Rosewood.
      3) Let’s remember who flooded the black community with drugs? Let’s remember who took away the employment opportunities that put people in dire straits and yes, it sent some towards that route. The remaining is greed and lack of wanting to work. But there are people of all colors with that issue. So what is your point about this?
      4) Again when a regular citizen murders another there is generally some type of punishment and a form of justice. When an officer, who is to be held to a higher standard than regular citizens, kills a person of color and never gets charged let alone get a conviction are two separate matters my friend and has nothing to do with the topic. That’s akin to protesting a breast cancer walk complaining about the lack of caring for prostate cancer. Secondly there have been for decade’s people/organizations/companies/churches etc fighting the violence in our communities but poverty and all that comes with it makes it hard. But it’s not our fault media doesn’t choose to show that. Why come we don’t talk about white on white violence? They get brutalized by police and when they complain about it no one quickly pivots to white on white crime.
      5) Who runs and controls majority of those fields? Last I check it was not the persons of color. Take this matter up with them. This is America so sex and violence sells.
      6) I didn’t see a question but I feel that both parties are at fault plus our own. I think we discount the psychological damage from slavery that’s been passed down from generation to generation

      What have they(republicans) done constructively to help better the lives of poc since Lincoln? Since the VRA? Since giving women the right to vote? Huh?

      • Lone Wolf on said:

        Since you have already admitted you are a mental slave of the Democrat party, you have admitted to being guided and controlled on what to believe. That is our problem. Also, need to stop using our great-great grand parent being a slave as an excuse for our failure; or Black oppression, when this very website is full of successful black people. Success was not given to them they had to work for it. We don’t want to work for it. We want the Democrats to make other people give it to us. OPEN YOUR EYEs

      • elizabethpappas on said:

        Ok sweetie. I’m gon pray for you. No man tells me what to think or how to but it’s ok. You just go ahead and dismiss everything I said and stick to your talking points.

  3. on said:

    If you think Paul`s story is neat,, 2 weaks-ago my boy frends brother basically earnt $6592 just sitting there seventeen hours a week an their house and they’re co-worker’s mom`s neighbour has done this for five months and errned over $6592 in there spare time On there laptop. applie the guide from this website,

  4. This experiment would have been more effective if all of the white kids and white teachers were the slaves and the Black kids were their masters. Ask a white person if they could would they want to go back in history as a slave and see their response

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  6. specialt757 on said:

    Okay here we go again, and let me start by saying after the first few lines of this story I was smh and almost didn’t get to finish I was so disgusted. I really don’t know if these people are stupid or just plain stupid. Now you just have to ask yourself (as the teacher), would this be okay if someone did this to my child, how would that make me feel? Would I be outraged? If the answer to this question is no, I would be okay with this, STOP teaching right now and find a new career. Your best job is waiting for you in Jamestown/Williamsburg VA where they do re-enactments of slavery for tourists.

  7. americanize on said:

    These fuckin teachers are white supremacist,they want the feeling of physical dominance over black people.Kudos to Ms. Carrington for not allowing her child to go though this bullshit.These devils show us everyday they don,t respect us.Do you think these devils would have a reenactment of jews being put in ovens.Black America you have no friends,we are all we got.So unified or die.

    • specialt757 on said:

      I agree Americanize, there’s something really wrong with a person who would do this activity in this time and day of racial tension and divide. I can’t imagine that they really knew any better, or that means they are either undercover racists or really incompetent mofos who need more education themselves.

    • Manetric Douglas on said:

      Jane Elliott has some good ideas. This was lazy academia. They could’ve went on field trip to museums that have stuff from that era, there are plantations that give you an idea of how slaves lived, movies/documentaries, and sometimes plain just talking straight to kids with credible sources/pictures to back up your facts.
      As a nation people need to quit being so dang lazy and research what’s been going on. None of this is new.

  8. WTF?
    White folks really want to take US back to Slavery!
    If they aren’t leaving little reminders around-i.e. -Nooses, Burned Crosses, etc.,
    now its pretending to be a Slave for a day in public schools.

    These turds are HELL bent on taking this country backwards.
    However, We have no intention of ever BEING ENSLAVED AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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