So Mock Slave Auctions are Cool Now?

Dear white people, slavery isn’t cool anymore.  Neither is simulated slavery. Hell I don’t even like date auctions. I would rather we not do fake auctions to “see how it felt” to be property. It doesn’t teach empathy or sympathy, and if you have to go through a simulation of being property in order to feel how wrong slavery was, then something is already seriously wrong with your brain. You guys don’t do simulated gas chambers or concentration camps to teach people about the Holocaust, and you certainly don’t do simulated death squads to teach people about Rwandan genocides. What the hell makes you think slavery is so different?

That being said, why would anyone think that it would be cool to send FOURTH GRADE students through a simulation of a slave auction? That’s what Jessica Boyle, a teacher in Norfolk, VA did on April 1st. Was it just an idiotic April Fools joke gone awry? We’ll never know. However, it wasn’t the first time this has happened. Last month, a similar auction happened in Ohio. Earlier than that, in 2005, another VA teacher came under fire for doing the same thing. What the hell?

Keep fighting the Man, Cookie Monster

Apparently this has been a part of some elementary school teachers’ curricula for years. If you are a teacher reading this, STOP DOING THAT SHIT. There is nothing you can teach a kid about slave auctions that can’t be done with “Roots” or pictures. Even if it were an effective and not racist thing to do, it’s totally inappropriate for 4th graders! Also, what’s the point of what you’re doing if in ALL of the mock auctions you make the white kids the masters and the black kids the slaves? What are you teaching them? Black folks how to feel degraded and exploited as an inferior race and white folks to feel superior for no reason? Oh wait, every day of our lives teaches us that. Stop.

Perhaps you guys don’t really understand what went on during slave auctions, or what it must have felt to be, as a black woman, to be sold as a child bearing vessel only and to have your genitals poked and prodded to demonstrate health in front of hundreds of men. Perhaps you didn’t realize that families were broken up at auctions, that people were sold with cattle and hogs, and displayed naked as one of them. Like animals. Look here’s some pictures.

All of those teachers should be fired. And if you think it’s cool to do things like this, odds are you may be racist.

Namaste.

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8 Responses to “So Mock Slave Auctions are Cool Now?”
  1. RAchel Humphrey says:

    I so totally don’t agree with you. It’s part of history to do simulations. Children don’t learn much from pictures and diagrams. It doesn’t work so why waste your time doing it. Simulations work just like we learn from doing tours of things like Prisons. Prisons are not good either and some of the ones in history like Alcatraz were not good but we have tours of them daily and even send schools to walk through… WHY? Because we learn more so CHILDREN learn by experiencing. Just because it’s not a good thing to have done doesn’t mean we should allow our children to learn from it. Just because blacks are sensitive to the subject (even though none of our current people have experience or even directly known anyone how has) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow our children to learn from it. Whites are blamed for what went on but we’re not allowed to learn from it just get blamed for it… hummm I see something wrong with this picture.

    • fivefifths says:

      should we also have our kids simulate being Hitler and send half of the kids off to the “ghetto” side of the classroom?

    • Donovan says:

      I wonder would you be okay with simulating putting Jewish people in ovens? Perhaps in gas chambers? Maybe we could simulate what happens when you drop an atomic bomb on someone?

      I never hear that these types of demonstrations are useful except when it pertains to slavery. Unlike others, I don’t believe any of this is harmless and unintentional. I believe that certain types of people know exactly what impact this will have. It is an intentional act that is done to remind our children of their “place.” But it is not the fault of people like you. It is our own fault. The first time it was done, we should have checked you. I assure you, it would not have happened again.

  2. fivefifths says:

    let me get this right. What exactly do white students learn from being the “master” in all of these simulations? Can’t be empathy.

    We can have our children tour slave markets and auction sites and plantations. They can tour prisons. That’s appropriate. They can tour old trail of tears camp grounds and reservations. What we don’t do is simulate actually locking kids in prison and have other kids act as prison guards for them. That’s NOT appropriate. In this case, what’s not appropriate is sending elementary school kids, who cannot possibly understand the context of what they are doing, through a simulation of one of the most dehumanizing things that can happen to a person. There are things that you don’t have to simulate to understand that they are terrible. This is one of them.

    Blacks ARE sensitive to the subject, partly because even for the majority of our parents’ lives, there have been people hellbent on sending us back. Would you not be sensitive too if you had no real family history, no knowledge of where your people are from, or if your last name was not even really your own? Slavery lasted hundreds of years, its impact on the psyche of blacks will be around for a long time.

  3. Alia says:

    As a teacher, I have to somewhat agree with simulations. I taught my students Black history with an intense focus on slavery, however many still did not get it. We watched film clips, read primary sources about the treatment of Blacks, however many of my students still did not feel the connection with their history and ancestry. In addition, 95% of my students are African-American. I felt very disheartened after weeks of “learning”, my students never saw slaves as actual people; people that resemble your own family. So would a simulation have worked? Who knows. I do know that the more creative you are bringing curriculum to life, the more the lesson “sticks.” As a teacher, it is less important that kids remember that image or film clip, and more about their understanding of their history and heritage.

    In addition, simulation is in fact used at the Holocaust Museum. As a visitor, you visit the inside of a gas chamber and walk through the exhibit as a person determined to live or die at the end of the exhibit. It is abrasive, yet an extremely educational and memorable experience. I believe done well (politically and socially cognitive) a simulation can be useful.

  4. Janell says:

    Is it not possible to hire actors to do reenactments?

  5. Nanashi says:

    “Dear white people, slavery isn’t cool anymore.”
    “What are you teaching them? Black folks how to feel degraded and exploited as an inferior race and white folks to feel superior for no reason? Oh wait, every day of our lives teaches us that. Stop.”

    Why is it so, that “WHITES” are always the bad buyers and sellers, and BLACKS are always the exploited? White people were slaves, too – read “White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America”, written by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh. The only difference was that WHITES were able to buy their freedom through hard work and labour, but still thousands of them died. So why does everyone think about BLACK SLAVES? If you type “slave” in google, you get millions of pictures of black slaves, eventually some Roman ones. Why were those white slaves forgotten? And why didn’t YOU put at least a small note about this in your article? Plus, i quoted those parts i find to be racist – YES, RACIST! I bet you wouldn’t mind being the mighty master for a change. And why is it the wrong way of thinking about slavery? Because slavery isn’t – and never was – about race or skin color, it was about taking advantage of the WEAK and POOR. It was simply a coincidence, that Europeans and Americans were strong, and the rest of the world weak. It could’ve been the other way, and it wouldn’t make it any less tragic.

    That’s all i had to say…or write 😉 Anyway, thanks for reading till the end, and sorry about my english, i bet there isn’t a phrase without a mistake.

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  1. […] with children who are at such a critical and impressionable age. It’s the same argument I used against teachers who simulated slavery in class activities. We’ve really got to nip this thing in the bud, as well as end this stupid “I […]



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