School apologises for Black History Month exercise where students acted as ‘runaway slaves’

Conrad Duncan@theconradduncan
Friday 22 February 2019 14:15
news

The principal of an elementary school in the state’s suburbs has apologised for a Black History Month exercise in which pupils had to act as "runaway slaves".

In the exercise, students were asked to play a “game” where they tackled an obstacle course representing the Underground Railroad, a network used to help African-Americans escape slavery in the 19th century.

Pupils were reportedly given the choice of being a slave, a sharecropper or a landowner.

In an apology letter, principal David Stewart said:

The lesson was culturally insensitive to our students and families. I extend my sincerest apology to our students and school community. 

This is contradictory to our overall goals of empathy, affirmation, and creating a culturally responsive learning environment for all.

The purpose of this letter in all transparency, is to share our actions and develop a plan to prevent this from happening again.

The incident has understandably caused outrage.

The apology came during a month which has seen three top Virginia politicians caught up in racism scandals and another facing allegations of sexual assault.

Governor Ralph Northam and attorney general Mark Herring, both Democrats, have both faced calls to resign over separate incidents where they wore blackface.

And the state’s most powerful Republican senator Thomas K Norment Jr has defended himself over his role editing a college yearbook that contained racist comments and photos.

None of them have resigned so far.

Meanwhile, Virginia failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment by one vote yesterday, a long-stalled amendment to the US Constituition that would end some legal distinctions between men and women.

All of this comes after a West Virginia woman made headlines around the world earlier this week when she was caught on video shouting racist abuse at a Mexican restaurant manager.

Seriously Virginia, what are you doing?!

HT: NBC News

More: Virginia Governor apologises, but does not resign after racist yearbook picture

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