I’m gonna be honest… I look at public schools very differently now versus when I attended them. Not just b/c I am an adult, but b/c I am questioning what’s happened to them.
I went to public schools from K-12 back in the 80s-90s, so I know what they’re about in the student space. Of course, technology has allowed for some things to be easier, times have changed as a whole, things are different. I get it.
However, I question the teachers, their motives, and their so-called teaching methods now b/c the caliber of teachers is different.
Back then, we didn’t have teachers going out of their way to be racially insensitive or very literal when it came to certain history lessons.
No, really… hear me out.
It seems like every time you turn around another teacher at another public school is singling out African-American culture, students, or history for the dumbest of reasons and then call themselves teaching.
Examples of What I Mean:
There’s a teacher that felt it was necessary to teach students about runaway slaves. Not slavery as a whole. Not slaves, plantations, the error in the concept, its lasting effects even today. Just being a solid focus on being a runaway slave.
She literally thought that this made sense. She really thought that people weren’t going to be upset. I don’t know how or why she thought that, but she had to b/c she went through with the “lesson.” Story here.
She had students pretend to be runaway slaves. Not only is this culturally insensitive and unnecessary, but why? Why would she do this? According to the article, “About 10 families complained after their children participated in the gym class.”
IT. WAS. A. DAMN. GYM. CLASS!!!! Never in the whole time that I was a student, in a public school, did we learn about being a runaway slave in GYM class!!! I mean, it wasn’t even a history class so why was this even a thought?
She could have told them to pretend to be Olympians, basketball players, football players, hell… even tennis players or track stars to convey a similar message, but nope! She chose to have them pretend to be runaway slaves.
Of course, the school apologized. However, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. There are some things that “sorry” doesn’t erase and how she made the students and parents feel is one of them.
Another example, of a teacher having children perform in blackface for Black History Month. Story here.
According to the article, “Pupils at Kindezi Old Fourth Ward Charter School recited Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1896 poem “We Wear The Mask” while wearing black masks with exaggerated red lips and white eyes.”
Really?! Was this necessary? What would make this teacher believe that wearing THIS mask was necessary for this particular performance? These are CHILDREN!!
Semone Banks stated, “Kindezi School is a great school and we are all like a big family, however, this act was not acceptable,” she said. “I do understand that it is a poem, but the kids could have made up their own mask and used emojis or anything,” according to the article.
She’s right! There are many, many other masks that could have been used to convey their illustration of wearing masks like the poem. Nothing in the universe told this teacher to just buy blackface masks and never consider the possibility of other masks that could work.
Another example, a teacher had students pretend to pick cotton and sing slave songs during a field trip, during Black History Month. Story here.
According to the article, “I’m livid right now,” said Jessica Blanchard, before wiping away tears. “I’m African-American and my ancestors picked cotton. Why would I want my son to pick cotton and think it’s fun?”
Yes, WHY would she want her son to experience something so horrific and tragic?
Another video shows kids hurrying to fill their sacks. In each video, the kids are being instructed to sing: “I like it when you fill the sack. I like it when you don’t talk back. Make money for me.”
What?! So, now we have teachers thinking that they are teaching the children about slavery by re-enacting it?! Ummm, NO! That’s unacceptable!
According to the article, “This program is not about [slavery],” Wali Cathcart said. “This program here is centered around the Great Depression of the 1930s, so slavery is not the predominant issue.”
While that’s true, the mother had this to say: “The problem, according to Blanchard, is that her son [had] no idea he was singing a slave song or that slaves used to pick cotton.”
FOX 46 asked why the school skips over the history of slaves being forced to pick cotton and if it should be mentioned. That question was not answered during the interview.
A Rant in my Spirit:
I’m not talking about all teachers, but I am talking about ANY teacher that thinks this behavior is okay or see nothing wrong with what these teachers did.
So, here’s my problem…
Yes, these three incidents happened very recently and yes, they involved public schools. However, this is a recent surge of insensitivity b/c when I attended public schools… my teachers didn’t teach in this manner.
I still got a great education without having to wear blackface, becoming a runaway slave, or picking cotton while singing slave songs.
What has changed that would allow these teachers to be so insensitive? I’ll tell you.
The teachers and their reasons for wanting to be teachers. We are living in Trump’s America. Where the racists are emboldened and proud to hate whenever and wherever they can. Where teachers believe that history lessons about slavery are taught during gym time and allowing white students to bid on black students in a “slave auction.”
When I was growing up, none of these re-enactments or “lessons” were necessary! They weren’t necessary then and they aren’t necessary now!
Being a child or teenager isn’t easy by any means, as it is. I mean, really… they already have to deal with bullying, teasing, learning disabilities, studying, home issues, absentee parents, drugs, gangs, other students, familial issues, etc.
Now, these teachers want to pile on their racial insensitivity too?! Nah… it’s not okay. It never will be okay. These children have enough to worry about all on their own.
They certainly don’t need a teacher, who doesn’t know how to deal with diverse students, to do something like this again.
A Word of Advice:
Listen, Emma, Julie, and Annie…
Being a teacher is a serious business. When you became a teacher, you chose to put the needs of the student… every student, ahead of your own during the hours of 7am and 3 pm b/c that’s when students are in your presence.
Yes, I know that doesn’t mean that they are solely your responsibility beyond that, but during those hours… they are. No, you don’t get paid enough to do the awesome job that most teachers do, however, you knew that going in.
These history lessons don’t belong in GYM class!! The HELL were you thinking?! 😒
By no means, does being a teacher translate into, “I can kick the curriculum to the side and teach what I want, my way, without anyone questioning anything I do.” I can tell you right now, that’s not how this works.
Those times in history were hurtful, harmful, oppressive, and they still have lasting effects on African-Americans today! You don’t know how those “lessons” would affect those children. You don’t know b/c it wasn’t your people that had to endure those horrific times!
Your profession, the job you chose to do, requires you to be able to reach and teach children from multiple diverse backgrounds, not exclude a whole ass race of people for your own “lessons” and call it teaching. I think you all need some diversity training b/c this was both, stupid and dumb.
Additionally, I learned lessons about history when I attended public school, but my teachers never taught it in a way that singled people out. Bottom line: You were WRONG for this!
Next time you think about doing something like this… DON’T!!!! There are many other ways to teach history when it’s appropriate.