Dear Caucasian Teachers:
Let’s gather in a circle of safety, shall we? Everyone come and sit criss cross applesauce on the sharing mat, open two eyes, open two ears, and close one mouth. Now, take a deep, cleansing breath in…and gently blow it out. You ready? Let’s begin.
THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? HAVE YOU ALL LOST YOUR ENTIRE RABID ASS MINDS? DO YOU NOT REALIZE YOU ARE THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FOR SHAPING THE YOUNG MINDS OF THIS COUNTRY, AND IMPARTING UPON THEM THE PROPER GRAVITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES IN OUR HISTORY? WHAT MANNER OF INEPTITUDE ARE WE DEALING WITH IN OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM RIGHT NOW?!?
This latest example of educational incompetence emerges from the Freeport School District in Long Island, NY. Ah, the Liberal Northeast: where racists don’t ever think they’re being racist, because…geography. *eye roll*
Here we have an unidentified, white, eighth-grade teacher who decided to ask her students for “funny captions” on Slave and Reconstruction Era photos of Black people. The teacher has been quoted as telling the children “don’t bore me” with their captions for the assignment. Many of the Black students at the school took issue with this, and when they got home, so did their parents and caretakers. The assignment was posted to social media, as it damn well should have been, and the community also expressed it’s displeasure with the demeaning and denigrating homework.
The unidentified teacher, who has taught in the district for 20 years (and, according to older students who attended this same middle school, has done this type of thing before), was “administratively reassigned” in light of the investigation into her actions (for the uninitiated, “administratively reassigned” means she isn’t teaching in a classroom, but is still employed, assigned duties, and getting a paycheck). She also issued an apology which, ironically, was VERY boring and boiler plate in its execution:
“As a teacher and fellow member of this school community, it is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions. I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust from my students, colleagues and the community.”
Girl, BYE. First of all, if you had even put the LOWEST DEGREE of care and thought into the Slavery and Reconstruction Eras of our nation, you would know there was absolutely NOTHING FUNNY about EITHER. ESPECIALLY not in the weary, worn, abused, and oppressed faces of those who had to live through those horrors.
However, for one to realize that the inhumane acts of slavery and sharecropping contained no humor, one would also have to respect the race of people who endured said inhumane acts. This is a character flaw many, and I mean MANY people who are not of African descent in this country possess. The lack of reverence, empathy, and respect for what Black people have experienced on this continent from 1619 to 2019 is staggering. It’s almost like…no one is teaching about it properly. *blank stare*
Most students have a love/hate relationship with the subject of History, and in the age of twitter and hashtags, educators have turned to unconventional tactics in order to engage the students. This “funny caption” assignment could have possibly been an attempt to replicate the activity a Huntsville, Alabama teacher used to highlight events of the American Revolution as if they were on Twitter. Hypothetical tweets from General George Washington to George Cornwallis that read “Guess we’ll have to call the war the American ‘Revoution” because y’all took that L. #independence” made for a hilariously memorable teaching aid.
The difference here, however, is that no one’s humanity is being disparaged in the act. There are certain historical events that should never be viewed through a lens so cloudy and casual as comedy. Slavery and sharecropping are two such events. No one would ever treat the Holocaust with such irreverence, and many suspect it is because white people empathize with Jewish people more than with Black people. One wonders why. *blank stare*
The superintendent of Freeport Schools, Dr. Kishore Kuncham, had this to say about the incident:
“Let me be perfectly clear: Our investigation has determined that this lesson was poorly conceived and executed…Aside from the fact that this is a poor lesson, it is an insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country, and it is unacceptable…The emotional and social wellness of our students is always our highest priority and we take any insensitive comments made by staff very seriously.”
Let’s hope when the investigation is completed, this teacher learns a valuable lesson in history, respect, culture, and how not to devalue the Black experience in America.