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Georgia Teacher Was Misguided, Not Racist, to Allow KKK Robes in Class

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Was it insensitive at best and racist at worst for a teacher in Georgia to have allowed students to dress up as Ku Klux Klan members in order to re-enact history? Or is the controversy over the issue an example of how people have become over-sensitive to anything race-related? These are the questions that are being asked at the moment.

Listen to me and Dr. Boyce Watkins discuss the issue.

On one hand you could ask if getting students to re-enact such sensitive issues is really the best way to teach them. Would teaching kids about the Holocaust involve having them pretend to be in a concentration camp, for example? Would they be expected to act out torture in order to get an idea of what it may have been like? Is it not enough for them to hear about these historical incidents through books?

Perhaps the issue is that the KKK is not quite relegated to the history bin yet. Unfortunately, it is a group that is still alive and there is something still very threatening, in a present day sense, about a Klan outfit, particularly in the south where this incident took place.

On the other hand, the teacher - Catherine Ariemma, a history class teacher at Lumpkin County High School - at the heart of this controversy is an award winning teacher who is apparently very good with the students. Is it really worth her losing her job over something that seems to have just been ill conceived? I personally don't think she is a racist. She sounds well intentioned, just a little careless.

Like Boyce says in our discussion, sometimes when it comes to issues that affect people of color, there is often not the same level of sensitivity given to say, if someone was to discuss the Holocaust or Nazi Germany. Most of us would balk at the idea of getting kids dressed up as Nazi soldiers, for example.

But let's not blow the issue totally out of proportion. Let the teacher get a slap on the wrist and some cultural sensitivity training. And then let her get on with her job.

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