A Black mother of a fourth grader who attends an elementary school in the Milwaukee area was extremely concerned when she found out her son was given an assignment asking to give three "good reasons" for slavery.
Trameka Brown-Berry shared a photo of her son Jerome's assignment to Facebook with the caption, "Does anyone else find my 4th grader's homework offensive?"
The assignment, given to social studies students at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School, asked "Give 3 'good' reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons." It's unclear what the teacher meant by the quotation marks.
On his homework assignment, Jerome responded, "I feel there is no good reason for slavery, that's why I did not write."
The fourth grader also added a note to the assignment, which read, "I am proud to be black because we are strong and brave."
In a statement to WESH, the school responded to criticism of the assignment.
"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,” the school said in a statement.
Trameka Brown-Berry later said on Facebook that she had spoken to the school principal about the assignment and made five requests: a verbal apology to her son and the other students, a formal apology sent to parents, the assignment be removed from current and future curriculum, effective communication from teachers about when they are touching on sensitive topics and that the school's staff be trained in cultural competency. The principal agreed to all of these, Brown-Berry said in her post.
Brown-Berry added that the teacher apologized to the class and that the principal was sending a formal apology letter to the school's entire student body.
"The moral of the story is, the only way to teach our kids to stand up for their rights and respect is to model it," she wrote. "With all of your support I was able to give my child a personal life lesson about how change starts with you."
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