Bad lesson? Ohio elementary school in trouble after black student made to play slave in class

March 8th, 2011 by Staff

www.nydailynews.com — An Ohio school district is in hot water after the mother of a black fifth-grader said her son was assigned to play a slave for a social studies lesson.

Aneka Burton told a Columbus, Ohio, television station that in her 10-year-old son Nikko’s social studies lesson, the class was divided into two groups: slaves and masters.

Nikko ended up in the slave group and said the students playing the master role would “look in your mouth and feel your legs and stuff and see if you’re strong,” according to WBNS-10TV.

His mom, understandably, was furious.

“He felt degraded,” she told the television station. “I feel like that was totally inappropriate; it was racist and it was degrading.”

Even worse, the incident was not a one-time thing, according to the school district.

After the uproar, a district spokesperson said in an emailed statement to the Daily News that the lesson will not be used again.

“The intent of the lesson was to provide students with multiple tools to learn about slavery in American history. It was intended to provide students with empathy, compassion and understanding, and was never intended to offend or upset anyone. Regardless of the intent, the effect was that some were offended and hurt by the lesson plan, and for that the school district is deeply sorry,” the spokesperson wrote.

Once the news broke, Chapelfield Elementary School Principal Scott Schmidt called the Burtons to apologize and the school district said officials acted once concern was raised.

“I don’t know how long it’s been going on,” Burton told WBNS-10TV, “but I am just shocked nobody has ever complained about it.”

Nikko, for his part, said he wants an apology from his teacher.


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