A Hartford, Conn., couple claim that their 12-year-old daughter was called the N-word and chased through the woods during a classroom slavery reenactment assignment last year, WFSB-TV reports.
James and Sandra Baker (pictured) say their child was on a four-day field trip at the Nature’s Classroom, a 40-year-old residential environmental education program, in Charlton, Mass., where the alleged assignment took place. They claim their child pretended to be on a slave ship and pick cotton. Even worse, she and other classmates pretended their instructors were slave masters.
“I ask that you imagine these phrases being yelled at our 12-year-old child and their friends,” Sandra said at a Hartford School Board meeting. “‘Bring those (n-word) to the house over there. (N-word) if you can read, there’s a problem. Dumb, dark-skinned (n-word). How dare you look at me?'”
They say the girl came back traumatized by the experience and immediately flied a complaint with the school district. The parents have been fighting with the Hartford School District for 10 months now and they’ve now taken their battle to the school board.
James Baker shared more his daughter’s experiences with the Hartford School Board recently. “The instructor told me if I were to run, they would whip me until I bled on the floor and then either cut my Achilles so I couldn’t run again, or hang me,'” he said.
Here are more details from WFSB-TV:
The Bakers said the program told kids they didn’t have to participate in the Underground Railroad skit, but were only told about the re-enactment 30 minutes before it began.
“The fact that they used the ‘n’ word. I mean, how dare you say that to my child and call it an educational experience. How dare you say that to any child.” Sandra Baker said.
She said she can’t believe the school has been taking part in the trip for years and never saw a problem with it. She’s filed complaints with the state Department of Education, Human Rights Commission and offices of civil rights.
“It’s a town of people of color,” she said. “Really. I mean, Hartford. You could not see something was wrong with this?”
The Bakers say their child is no longer in the Hartford School System.
John Santos, the Executive Director of Nature’s Classroom, told The Huffington Post that he regrets that the Baker’s child had such a negative experience, but that the Underground Railroad activity is just one of over 500 programs available; the school chose to participate in it. “We are not in the business of creating harm, physically or emotionally but the legitimacy of the activity needs to be judged by individual participants at all grade levels,” he said.