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A school assignment to argue in support of the slave trade has sparked fury – and now, the school is under investigation.
Lake Macquarie High School in Australia received backlash after a history assignment circulated across social media. Students were required to write as the US Economy Minister and "argue for the continuation of the Slave Trade" or as the US Human Rights Minister where "your report wants to stop Slave Trade".
Those told to write in favour were instructed to outline "the positive contribution" slaves made to the economy through an "empathetic perspective" and to "understand from the viewpoint of the people involved".
The department of education told news.com.au it was "aware of an allegation of inappropriate content appearing in an assessment task" at the school and was investigating the matter.
"The Department has had an Anti-Racism Policy in place for 30 years," they said.
"It promotes respect for people from all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and rejects all forms of racism in schools and department offices."
Maria Alier shared the controversial task on Facebook when she received the task from a friend whose siblings were in the class. Alier said the assignment "initially baffled and then quickly insulted" her and she couldn't fathom how it wasn't stopped in its tracks.
“Asking kids to justify the unjustifiable and argue for the continuation of indescribably painful and cruel practice such as slavery sends their easily impressionable adolescent minds to the very same right-wing material that could manipulate even the most forward-thinking kids into a rabbit hole of bigotry and prejudice,” she told the news outlet.
"No one is saying that we can't learn about slavery or the injustices of the past, but it is not correct to sit there and justify them."
In the Facebook post, Alier encouraged people to complain to the school and the Department of Education. "This assessment does not meet the standard of the Duty of Care, both physically and psychologically, that teachers are legally obligated to provide to students," she penned.
Furious Facebook users turned to the post with their take on the matter, with one person slamming the task as a way "to perpetuate white supremacy."
"Understanding the rationale of how slave owners & others involved is one thing," they wrote. "Having students DEFEND slavery for any reason is unacceptable. Moreover, encouraging students to write in favour of slavery in an "empathetic" way is simply teaching them to perpetuate white supremacy."
Another proclaimed, "This education system is just f***ing monstrous."
However, a third believed the "intent" of the assignment was "lost in translation."
They said: "It is a good example to teach students on what the mindset of the US was during the period of the civil war from the perspective of the confederates and the union, but the way this assignment was handled is inappropriate at best."
Indy100 reached out to Lake Macquarie High School for comment.
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