In Milwaukee, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School’s fourth-grade students were sent home with the typical history homework assignment—write about slavery. Only their teacher took the assignment in a slightly different way. They wanted the students to write three bad reasons and three “good” reasons for owning people.
In the assignment, “good” is written in quotation marks, but it’s unclear what the teacher was trying to imply.
The school states on its website that it “exists to provide a Christ-centered quality education to students in grades 3K–8.“
The school eventually made a statement to local TV station WISN, saying “We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive. The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that any slavery is acceptable — a concept that goes against our core values and beliefs about the equality and worth of people of all races.”
In the assignment posted above, the boy wrote a note at the bottom:
“I am proud to be black because we are strong and brave.”
Aside from being an incredibly brave statement from a young boy, it also reveals something horrifying—the teacher asked Black students to defend slavery. Hypothetical or not, that is a despicable choice.
That boy’s mother, Trameka Brown-Berry spoke with the school principal and made five requests. A verbal apology to her son and the class, a formal apology sent to parents, the removal of the assignment from the curriculum, that teachers notify parents when they are teaching sensitive topics, and that the school’s staff and faculty be trained in cultural competency. The principal agreed.
Brown-Berry later posted:
It’s just sad this happened to begin with.