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This elementary school made students play ‘runaway slave’

Shomari Stone/Twitter

Parents are outraged over the incident.

Just weeks after photos of Virginia politicians in blackface surfaced, an area school is under fire for orchestrating a game where students were required to fight obstacles as runaway slaves.

The principal at Madison’s Trust Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia, has since apologized and arranged for the lesson to be “retaught.”

At least one African-American student was made to play the role of a slave in the game that was supposed to replicate the Underground Railroad, and the activity was carried out for students from third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders.

Loudoun County Public Schools has reportedly said it’s working to address this issue.

Loudoun NAACP Chapter President Michelle Thomas told the Loudoun Times-Mirror that she had heard complaints from several parents.

The activity, part of a gym class, began with an introductory course on the Underground Railroad before students were separated into six groups and were tasked to navigate a physical obstacle.

On Feb. 12, David Stewart, the school’s principal, sent out an apology about the “culturally insensitive” material taught to the students, according to the Washington Post.

“This is contradictory to our overall goals of empathy, affirmation, and creating a culturally responsive learning environment for all,” he wrote, adding that the school would be working towards developing a plan “to prevent this from happening again.”

But this is hardly the first time it happened. Thomas, who herself has been involved with curriculum review and best practices for such courses, says this is nothing new. Every year, around this time i.e. Black History Month, she receives complaints from parents about students having to role play as sharecroppers, slaves, or landowners.

“[Slavery] was never a game, and it should never be taken lightly,” Thomas told BuzzFeed News. “It’s sickening. It’s racist.”

The complaints came weeks after state officials, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D), were reported to have worn blackface during their time in school. Notably, Thomas claims Herring himself attended one of the Loudoun County Public Schools.

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H/T Shomari Stone

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque