A teaching moment on black history apparently left the wrong message for one elementary student in Ohio.
A history teacher at Chapelfield Elementary School apparently held a mock slave auction as a means of explaining the history of slavery to students. The class was divided into two sections: “Slaves” and “Masters”. There were only two African-American students in the classroom—one was assigned to be a “Master” and the other student, Nikko Burton, was told to be a “Slave”.
The 10 year-old was disciplined after he refused to participate in the re-enactment which involved pocking, prodding, and public humiliation.
I ended up being a slave,” Nikko told 10TVNews. “At first I didn’t care, but after people were bidding on people it kind of made me a little mad and stuff.”
The teacher told the students that they needed to touch the “Slaves” to see if they were worth being purchased.
“The masters go to touch people and do all sorts of stuff,” Nikko said. “They got to look in your mouth and feel your legs and stuff and see if you’re strong and stuff.”
His mother stated that she was firmly against the mock auction.
“He felt degraded, he was hurt and the kids picked on him later,” Aneka Burton, his mother, said. “I feel like that was totally inappropriate; it was racist and it was degrading.”
A spokeswoman from the school stated that the lesson is part of a state required curriculum in Ohio’s public schools. A school district representative apologized to the family over the phone, but the young student has yet to receive an apology from his teacher.
“It was kind of mean and she should have said sorry,” he said.