Mock Slave Auction Held In Virginia Classroom
To say this is the year 2011, there certainly are some pretty backwards things going on all over the country. For instance, in Norfolk, Virginia (hometown of super producer/recording artist Pharrell), a history teacher chose to bring the Civil War to life in her classroom by holding a slave auction.
Sidenote: Let it be said that it’s bad enough we’re mainly taught this part of our history in school. I can imagine whenever a teacher discusses slavery in a classroom of multiple races, you can instantly see most of the black heads droop to the ground. However, the royalty, philosophy, ingenuity, and majesty of ancient Africa are not deemed important for us to know. If all we are taught about our history is that we were bought and sold and treated as less than human, doesn’t it perpetuate self-hate? Can we really love ourselves without loving where we come from?
Now, back to Norfolk. Earlier this month, fourth-grade teacher Jessica Boyle chose to have a slave auction in her classroom. She lined the black and mixed students up on one side of the room, and put the whites on the other and had the white students bid on and “buy” the blacks. We’re guessing there were no movies depicting slavery in the school library that would suffice to provide enrichment on this subject? We’re also guessing there were no students of other races in the classroom?
Interestingly enough, the school itself has a history of its own concerning the Civil War. Sewells Point Elementary School is named for the grounds on which the Battle of Sewells Point, one of the earliest Civil War skirmishes, was fought. Of course, the parents called the school and got statements such as these from principal Mary Wrushen:
“The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation.”
Yup, pretty much. A school spokesperson added that Boyle, who has taught at Sewells Point for six years, has never done anything of the sort before.
Even worse, this same type of thing happened near Columbus, OH about a month ago. We’ve got to be fairly skeptical about these practices—we don’t really think that such experiences are needed? At one time in this country, people were bought and sold and forced to work in inhumane, brutal and oppressive conditions. I think we all know that. I’m pretty sure this was not the first time any of the fourth-graders in either of these examples had heard about slavery or considered how it would feel to be in that position.
There are way too many hurt feelings and ever-present effects of slavery in this country for us to recreate or mock the practice of buying, selling and trading slaves. Teachers, therefore, might want to try black history museums and movies instead of having slave auctions of their own.