A teacher in Westchester reportedly held a fake slave auction with black students
Today in horrific news, a fifth-grade teacher at Chapel School allegedly held a mock slave auction for her class. She told white students to bid on black students and she acted as the auctioneer. There’s currently an investigation going on by school officials and the state Attorney General into this whole appalling situation.
Vernex Harding told The Daily News that her son came home last week and told her an upsetting story from his day at school. He said that his teacher, Rebecca Antinozzi, had brought three of the black students outside the classroom and pretended to put them in shackles. She then had the white students pretend to be slave owners, who were bidding on the black students.
“I’m shocked and infuriated that this happened to my son,” Harding said. “I’m very shaken.” She added that her child was “humiliated” and that Antinozzi conducted the same mock auction in her other fifth-grade class. Chapel School’s principal Michael Shultz wrote in an email to parents that the teacher’s actions were “racially insensitive and hurtful.”
Antinozzi has since been removed from her classroom according to PIX11 and Shultz said the school is in the “midst of an investigation.” Attorney General Letitia James has also stepped in, saying that the allegations are “deeply troubling” and her office is monitoring the situation.
Meanwhile, Antinozzi is standing her ground. She released a statement through her lawyer, denying any wrongdoing.
“The portrayal of the history lesson that has been reported is inaccurate, out of context, contains false facts and ignores the overwhelming support of Ms. Antinozzi from dozens of parents at the school,” her response read. “To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day, it certainly was never intended.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that a teacher has used deeply insensitive tactics in their lesson plans about slavery. In February, third, fourth, and fifth graders at Madison’s Trust Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia participated in a slavery “game.” They were instructed to overcome certain obstacles, like scootering between different stations and moving through a hula hoop, in order to make it through the Underground Railroad.
Wayde Byard, a spokesperson for the Loudoun County Public Schools, told Buzzfeed News that the goal was to “teach communication, cooperation, and teamwork.” I think we can all probably agree that a teacher can teach those sort of lessons without turning the violence and dehumanization of slavery into a fun classroom activity.
“[Slavery] was never a game, and it should never be taken lightly,” Michelle Thomas, president of the Loudoun NAACP Chapter, told Buzzfeed. “It’s sickening. It’s racist.”