Posted Oct. 4, 2007 – Jena High School – where nooses hung on a tree sparked the largest civil rights protest in recent memory – isn’t the only campus where race is the main subject of the day. Following are a few of the schoolhouse incidents that have erupted in recent days:
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At Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, N.J., two teachers are having to explain to angry parents and administrators alike why they asked about 100 sixth-graders to participate in a social studies project that required them to “build a plantation” in South Carolina with a “catchy” name and to create an advertisement that defended it. Wrote one of the students, “Slave labor is the way to go because slaves aren't paid, so all money is profit,” CBS2 reported. The “Lap of Luxury” project, which also required the pupils to explain why slavery is the best, infuriated parents like Tyiesha Hameed, whose child is one of only eight Black children at the school. "It's really offending…There's so many other ways and tools to show our kids how to learn and teach them in reference to slavery." James Harris, president of the New Jersey NAACP chapter, said, "The students have to use their creative spirits to create justification. That gets the mind pretty worked up, and it embeds some things in their process that will be there for forever." The principal, Casey Shorter, said he was unaware of the assignment and promised it would be nixed from the curriculum.
At Sequatchie County Middle School (Tenn.), fifth-graders were assigned a crossword puzzle for homework that had the “N”-word as one of the answers. Principal Donald Johnson said a teacher got the puzzle from a subscription Web site, according to WTVC-TV in Chattanooga, Tenn. The crossword clue: “An insulting way to label a [B]lack person?” The puzzle was a supplement to the book “Sounder,” often used in classrooms to address the issue of southern racism and the institution of sharecropping, as seen through the eyes of a young Black boy. Johnson said a mistake was made, but refused to identify the teacher responsible.
An incident at Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., last weekend, has police pondering whether to file criminal charges with "enhanced penalties for a hate crime," after a Black student was held against his will and then released with "KKK" and swastikas drawn on him in marker. Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier told The Washington Post Wednesday that the incident began when “friendly horseplay” between Black students and White students evolved into an angry exchange. The groups dispersed, but later, six White students and one Black student – all between the ages of 15 and 19 – took a Black student into a dorm room, where they held him for 45 minutes. "They used markers to write 'KKK' and draw swastikas on the student," Lanier said. Once released, the student told campus authorities, who called police. "The support we've received from the campus and from the school employees has been tremendous," Lanier said. "And I think they're supporting us in making a very strong statement that this investigation may lead to charges that could have enhanced penalties for a hate crime." The school, a residential high school on the campus of Gallaudet University, a higher education facility for deaf and hard of hearing people, is administered as a division of the university's Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.
On the bank of Louisiana’s Red River, which is about an hour’s drive north of Jena, four White students from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, their faces colored black, acted out their version of the “Jena 6” assault while a buddy snapped photos and videotaped the skit. They then posted it on the Internet sharing site, Facebook. The photos and short video clip were compiled in an online album set up by nursing student Kristy Smith, titled "The Jena 6 on the River," reports smokinggun.com. In the video, three students with mud smeared on their bodies kick a fourth student, while two of the actors yell, "Jena 6." One man says, "N**gers put the noose on." Smith, who has since taken the album down, said on her page: “We were just playin n the mud and it got out of hand. I promise i'm not racist. i have just as many black friends as i do white. And i love them to death.”
Do you think there's a sudden increase in race-related incidents at schools, or do you think people are just reporting more things since the whole Jena, La., mess?
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