In a trend that displayed mind-blowing racism, several groups of African-American elementary school students were subjected to games that trivialized slavery in their classrooms around Black History Month.
WECT-TV reported on Friday that a North Carolina woman was outraged that her granddaughter’s fourth-grade teacher had Black students play a role-playing game that included chains, plantations and simulated punishment for slaves who tried to run away to freedom.
In the game, called Escaping Slavery, teachers gave students a Freedom Punch Card with the following instructions: “If your group runs into trouble four times, you will be severely punished and sent back to the plantation to work as a slave.”
The grandmother, who declined to identify herself out of fear of retribution toward her grandchild, urged the Wilmington school to stop using the game.
“Slavery is not a game. It happened to Black people. It happened to my ancestors. They were slaves,” the grandmother said. “Who would give this to a child to play in an elementary school, any school, in this day and time? It kind of hurts to know that this is going on, and especially here in Wilmington.”
In a similar instance, a Northern Virginia elementary school came under fire last month for its Underground Railroad game that was part of recognizing Black History Month. Students in the third, fourth and fifth grades at Madison’s Trust Elementary in Brambleton were taught about the network of safe houses that protected runaway slaves trying to escape to the North. But the game made a mockery of the country’s sordid past of slavery by dividing students into groups that were challenged to escape to freedom by moving through an obstacle course that included plastic hoops.
If you thought that the trend was concentrated in Southern states, think again.
Teachers at a suburban New York City school singled out Black students for a mock slave auction in a fifth-grade Social Studies class, just days after Black History Month ended. Teachers reportedly told Black children to put imaginary shackles on their necks, wrists and ankles before they were taken to a classroom where classmates bid on them.
“I’m getting teary-eyed about it because it’s like, how could somebody do this to my son,” mother Vernex Harding said about the Chapel School in Bronxville.
Unlike the school districts in New York and Virginia, school officials in North Carolina refused to apologize for their slave game. The school’s principal said the idea and materials for the activity came from the educational website Teachers Pay Teachers and was intended to dispel myths about slavery.
It’s unclear whether there will be consequences at the other two schools. In Virginia, there’s no transparency. School officials there declined to say if anyone was or would be punished because of privacy issues. And in New York, newly elected Attorney General Letitia James, who’s African-American, was reportedly looking into the incident.