US Teacher suspended after casting black pupils as slaves

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A teacher at a US elementary school has been suspended after casting two of her pupils of colour as slaves in a school play.

They were to be whipped by other children as part of the play featuring fifth graders – 10 or 11 year olds.

The parents of a mixed-race girl, aged 10, complained to the school and other officials in Hamden, Connecticut.

Carmen and Joshua Parker are calling for diversity training for teachers in the district.

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Ms Parker did not think the play was an appropriate way of teaching children about slavery, and she was concerned about how black people were portrayed in it, she is quoted as saying by the New Haven Independent website.

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“The scene starts with nameless slaves [number] one and two getting pushed towards the ship by the slave owner and a child is acting as the slave owner.”

“I was trying to make sense of the whipping of the children, the children were going to be whipping the slaves,” Mr Parker told local TV.

Ms Parker – who moved from Georgia to Connecticut to become assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University to research racism in medicine – said no teacher at her daughter’s school in Georgia would have assigned that play to students.

The teacher, who is white, has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation. A local schools official said the play was not a part of the curriculum, and that it had not been approved by the district.

Ms Parker said blaming the teacher was not the solution.

“Teachers are not the scapegoat for a system that is clearly broken and has been suppressing minority voices and the voices of those with disabilities,” she told a local education committee on Tuesday.

BBC