iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Kirsten West Savali

GET UPDATES FROM Kirsten West Savali
 

Atlanta Metro-Area School District Defends Using Slavery Equations To Teach Math To Third Graders

Posted: 01/10/2012 3:40 pm

Third grade math is not normally the course where students are taught about beating slaves and dehumanizing labor, but two teachers at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Atlanta thought it was a perfectly normal integration.

Chris Braxton told Fox 5 Atlanta that his son came home from school Friday afternoon with a racially inflammatory assignment that featured such questions as:

"Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

"How many baskets of cotton did Frederick fill?"

"If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week? Two weeks?"

While the Gwinnett County School District admits the questions were "inappropriate," they are not disciplining the teachers in any way; in fact, they came swiftly to their defense.

Spokesperson Sloan Roach said "two teachers from the school came up with the questions as part of a cross-curriculum activity," reports Fox 5. After learning about slavery in social studies, they apparently felt it would be an excellent idea to reinforce the horrific violence of oppression by having their students count how many times African slaves was abused by their owners.

"They were trying to connect what they learned there with the math," Roach said. This is simply a case of creating a bad question."

Though Braxton rightfully feels that the questions are racist, the school district defends the teachers against the charges by simply stating that the "bad" questions will not be used again.

I have seen many cases of ignorance and racism in the media, but this is one of the most vile, reprehensible forms of indoctrination. To teach eight-year-olds math by inserting slavery into the equation is evidence that plantation philosophy not only runs rampant in Georgia politics, but in education as well.

There were no other questions that could have been asked? Maybe: How many slave-owners deserved to be lynched for the atrocities they committed against their African slaves?

Answer: All of them.

How callous is it to throw out numbers without giving voice to the the enormity of the subjugation that African slaves faced? How absolutely heinous to have children count beatings in their head, diminishing African people to mere human chattel in a classroom setting in 2012?

If we're going to talk about math, let's talk about all the wealth that was stolen from future generations of the African-American community during slavery, when every back-breaking second, minute and hour of work translated into profits for white America while our families were beaten, murdered, raped and torn apart?

If African-Americans were allowed to accumulate wealth during slavery, would we still face the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country? Why aren't our future leaders examining that mathematical equation?

These teachers deserve to be fired. Immediately. No, that's not over-reacting; no, it's not overly sensitive.

When the Gawker blogger was fired for referring to Kanye West's new company, DONDA, named after his late mother, as an acronym for "Dis Original Nigga Dresses Aight," I found it difficult to believe that a brother whose current hit is "Niggas in Paris" would be offended. When Rihanna was referred to as a "niggabitch" by Dutch magazine, Jackie, I refused to feel empathy for a woman who uses the words "nigga" and "bitch" on a regular basis. When scholars attempted to rewrite Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn by removing "nigger" and replacing it with "slave," I passionately disagreed with the artistic and historical revisionism, believing that "slave" is just as---if not more---psychologically damaging as the word "nigger."

But this...is inexcusable.

If the Gwinnett County School District continues to deflect and minimize the severity of this situation, serving as accessories to the teachers themselves, then it would behoove African-Americans in the district to put two and two together and realize that they don't give a damn about you, your children, nor their education.

The math doesn't get any simpler than that.

 

Follow Kirsten West Savali on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KWestSavali

FOLLOW BLACK VOICES