Elementary school apologizes after children of color were asked by peers to role-play as slaves for lesson

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/01/elementary-school-apologizes-a.html



To all White people who don’t just passively accept all the ingrained bigotry and racism of this entire society we live in:



& the passive acceptors can just frog march themselves into the ocean


Educators have no business asking children to reenact historical injustices, doubly so when those injustices echo into the present day. This should be common sense, but since that’s evidently too much to ask, every educator should be taught this.


A better classroom exercise was done successfully after the assassination of MLK. The Frontline episode documenting its impact (A Class Divided) is a must see. I count myself fortunate that it was assigned viewing when it came out in 1985 while I was still in high school.

Edit: per my follow up comments, some have questioned the effectiveness of the program itself, but watching the film did it for me.


It’s about time we all realize that every one of us are slaves.


Vid won’t play for me ATM.

Is that the one where the teacher separated the class by eye color?

That was groundbreaking stuff; getting right to the heart of disparity and inequality based solely upon superficial differences.


Thanks for sharing that. Bookmarked for when I have a free hour.

It is. I’m encountering it for the first time.


I first saw it about 10-15 years ago, and it blew my fucking mind; even decades after the fact.

The way Jane Elliot broke down the root system of US racism so that it was incredibly easy to understand and observe in action was nothing short of brilliant.


One of the ways I always try to explain how race is a cultural artifact is by pointing out that the physical characteristics of eye color and hair color can just as easily be used to oppress. Of course I knew the Nazis and other eugenicists (including in America) used junk science to do exactly that, but I had no idea someone had used such examples as educational tools. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the lesson than that since it’s an hour documentary.

Of course these days I find I more often need to explain to self-proclaimed “color-blind” people that cultural artifacts are still very real with life and death consequences.


That’s a bummer, maybe depends on location. Can you get it here?

It’s an emotional experience, then an intellectual one and you appreciate what a giant this lady was. Interesting notes on Wikipedia with mixed reviews about the legacy. But I think just watching the film may be more impactful than being subjected to the program (I think it would have scarred me, to be honest).


I was looking at the comments on this story and was blown away to see you. Surprised to see your unmistakable Sodahead username and Avatar. I created this profile real quick just to say hello. Hope all is well with you and yours, and Happy New Year.

They were SO wrong to do everyone on SH like that. I hadn’t been on in awhile, went to login one day and was floored. Curious how it played out for you, did they give y’all notice?

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This. Way back when I was in school, they tried to “educate” us about South African apartheid by making everyone wear a wristband of one of two colors. If you had one color you got to use the preferred facilities and cut the lunch line etc… There were a few of us who flatly refused to play their game, but not as many as I would have hoped. And very “Stanford Prison Experiment” like, there were a few wristband monitors who got a little too into their roles.


How many students were given the preferred colour?

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The part that seems nuts is reenacting historical injustices so specifically, including having those on the short end play that role.

The lesson of “setting up a hierarchy/caste system based on irrelevant phenotypic differences is crazy but people get into it chillingly easily” is arguably an important one; but you can do that without going down the “Hey, black kids, we need some slaves here…” route.


For the LULZ:


I’m being a slave, RIGHT N… (oh, sorry, oversharing again).


Hopefully part of the sensitivity training for stuff like this is whenever you get a “great idea” like this, do a quick internet search of it, and see how many instances JUST LIKE THIS have made the news in the past decade.


We did more than watch the film in class when I was a kid. They divided us up in different ways over the course of a week based on one trait or another and gave us different privileges and then would take them away. On the first day I had the privileged to do something my friends didn’t because i had blue eyes. the next day i wasn’t allowed to do something because i had straight hair. day three it was based on where your name was in the alphabet. By the end of the week everyone in the class got to do something that a peer couldn’t AND the other way around and then we talked about how everyone felt at different times through the week…it was very powerful. And it has had a lasting effect on me.


Dont fret; that’s not the issue… my ISP is just crap , that’s all.

Hello there and Happy New Year to you & yours.

Hearing the name of that long gone site is like a shadow crossing over a grave, I gotta be honest. Especially given the current political atmosphere since 2015, I’m actually glad that cesspool is dead

To answer your question, no the staff didn’t give anyone any advanced notice; they just locked everyone out of their accounts unceremoniously, and that was the end.

I guess Fef & Co erroneously thought they could do better devoting their “brand” creating vapid polls and widgets for other more reputable sites… except that ‘there’s an app’ for damn near everything, meaning companies can make polls etc all on their own, without needing to hire a 3rd party.