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An elementary school in Virginia is seeing several staff members go through re-training after an incident where students were asked to participate in "runaway slave games."

Third, fourth and fifth grade students were being taught about slavery during Black History Month.


Like many curriculums, Madison Trust Elementary encourages lessons that get the kids moving, communicating and working as a team.

Teachers decided the best way to do that during Black History Month was to split gym classes into groups and pretend to be slaves overcoming physical obstacles on the underground railroad. They were asked to do things like move through hula hoops and scooter around without touching the floor.

The lesson drew immediate criticism from parents, particularly since the school is predominantly white. Local NAACP chapter president Michelle Thomas received several complaints and spoke to the media about one child in particular.

"Obviously, if he's the only one that's black, he's the only one that could have ever been related to someone who used to be a slave, and imagine him carrying that stigma all through school."

Thomas also went on to explain that her chapter, and most other NAACP chapters, get heaps of complaints every year about schools asking children to take on roles like slave and slave owner during lessons on slavery. Ms. Thomas would like to stress, once again, that this is not appropriate as slavery was never a choice or a game and should not be taken so lightly.

The school agrees and has taken a proactive role in rectifying the situation. Not only was the lesson scrapped, it was re-framed and re-taught entirely.

Students who got the initial lesson were then talked to. Administrators and teachers explained that adults can make mistakes, too - and that they did by treating slavery as a fun game.

The Principal sent out a letter that read, in part:

"This is contradictory to our overall goals of empathy, affirmation, and creating a culturally responsive learning environment for all. The lesson was culturally insensitive to our students and families. I extend my sincerest apology to our students and school community."

And a spokesperson for the county told media outlets:

"The lesson was retaught and the mistakes with the original lesson discussed with students. As adults, we feel it is proper to model conduct and accept responsibility when a mistake is made."

Twitter is pretty fired up over the incident.










Educator Jamie Gerding was inspired to share an impromptu 10-tweet lesson on how slavery is taught in schools and it's terrifyingly eye-opening.











Did the teachers go too far? Should they be fired? Is the whole thing one big misunderstanding?

Or is this exactly what people of color mean when they talk about systemic racism and White privilege.

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