Sunday, December 7, 2008

Teaching Slavery

One cannot teach American history without teaching slavery.  When doing so with African American children, it must be handled very carefully.  It is a source of great pain and suffering.  Even though today we are free as a people, the psychic memory of what our ancestors went through still haunts us.

I remember watching roots with my parents when it originally aired.  I had nightmares for weeks.  I did not understand, and was terrified that I would be treated like the blacks that I saw on television. 

image A teacher in Rockland County decided to use tape to bind the hands and legs of two little black girls, and then force them to lie under a desk to teach them what it was like to be a slave. One of the little girls cried throughout the whole experience, as the white teacher explained to the children the conditions the slaves endured during the middle passage.

From her privileged position she could not imagine how traumatic this could be to two little black girls.  Even when spoken to about her teaching tactics, she refused to apologize. To make matters worse this woman still has a job.  Each day these girls get to face the woman that decided it was okay to publicly shame them.  How many more tears do our children have to shed?

How many different kinds of wrong is this?  Seriously, imagine the horror, shame, and embarrassment, of those two little girls in front of their peer group.  This is not a fucking joke.

image I wonder if while she was binding their hands she was imagining herself back in  the times when this was an everyday occurrence. Who the hell thinks that it is acceptable to tie up two little girls, to teach them about anything?  To then add the indignity of pronouncing them slaves is almost more than I can bare.

Everyday there are examples of how racism continues to be an issue in our society, despite the lie that we are living in a post racial world.  Blacks are told we are to sensitive when we complain, and whites continue to deny their unearned privilege.  It seems continually we are reminded that we are different, but we are expected to accept it silently.'

'The minute we complain, we are uppity Negroes, trying to use a crutch to get an unfair advantage.  Can you just imagine the uproar if a black teacher had decided to tie up two little white girls? Hell it would be all over CNN.  Two little white girls would be deemed to fragile and pure for such treatment.

At what point are we entitled to our dignity?  Slavery is something that is very painful to people of colour, and to see the memory and legacy of it disrespected in this way, is harmful not only to the children that were bound, but to each and every single person of colour that is daily subjected to racism. 

It is my hope that the parents will organize and get this woman fired.  No one who thinks that it is acceptable to tie up two little girls has any place in a classroom.  There are many methods that could have been employed to teach about slavery, but this certainly was not a good pedagogical decision.

Okay WPD tell me that this isn't really racist.  Go on, tell me that I am being too sensitive.  Find a way to twist this story so that I am the racist and not the teacher who bound these children.  You see, I know the one thing that whiteness has perfected over generations; the ability to find every excuse possible to excuse its privilege.


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