I received a call the today from CNN for an appearance on Headline News with the amazing Richelle Carey. The story happened a couple of weeks ago, but it took me aback and I thought I would quickly share it with the AOL BV family. During a field trip to a former plantation in Charlotte, NC, the tour guide wanted to show the kids what slavery was like. So, he asked the black children to pick cotton while their white classmates stood around and watched. When the CNN producer (a nice woman named Ebony) told me about the story, I had to do a Gary Coleman imitation: "What choo talking bout Ebony?"
Beyond the obvious, this case is disturbing on a multitude of levels. But CNN has asked me to help make this case into a teachable moment. I love finding life lessons in everything, so here are some quick thoughts:
1) The tour guide who did this clearly wasn't thinking: If you want the children to empathize with slavery, why not have them ALL pretend to be slaves? If you have the black children pretending to be slaves and the white kids pretending to be their masters, you are only teaching the white kids to be slave masters and the black kids to be their property.
2) Look at this through the mind of a child: I remember a child in elementary school saying to me, "I wish slavery was still around, because I could then tell you what to do." Those were the same words that Walter Currie's classmate said to him beforespraying him with gasoline and setting him on fire. Those were also the words that one child said to another on the bus ride home from the plantation that day in North Carolina. Do you see a trend here? While we as adults might see the educational value in our remarks, children might see it in an entirely different way.