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A Caucasian New York City teacher is facing backlash from traumatized students and angry parents and community members after her lesson on slavery in the United States crossed a line.


Two weeks ago, Patricia Cummings of Middle School 118 in the Bronx, where the student body is 81 percent African-American, allegedly singled out the African-American students in her seventh-grade classroom, telling them to lie on the floor during the lesson. She then allegedly stepped on the back of at least one of the students in a strange attempt to show the student what slavery felt like.

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“It was a lesson about slavery and the Triangle Trade,” one of her students, who asked to remain anonymous, told the New York Daily News. “She picked three of the black kids. She said, ‘You see how it was to be a slave?’ She said, ‘How does it feel?'”

When a female student on the floor made a joke saying she felt fine, Cummings allegedly stepped on her back.

“She put her foot on her back and said ‘How does it feel?'” the anonymous student continued. “‘See how it feels to be a slave?'”

Another student added that the “lesson” came after Cummings showed the class a video of slaves being beaten, tortured and thrown off the side of a ship. The student indicated that the teacher went as far as to measure “the length and width [of the students on the floor] to show how little space slaves had in the ship. It was strange.”

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Following the shocking incident, the teacher, who has worked in NYC schools since 2016, was removed from her post for a few days, but returned to class on Thursday. She has since been reassigned away from her students after the city’s Education Department received word of her slavery lesson.

“While the investigation has not been completed, these are deeply disturbing allegations, and the alleged behavior has no place in our schools or in society,” Education Department spokeswoman Toya Holness said.

The school’s principal has so far declined to comment on the ordeal.

Carlin Becker About the author:
Carlin Becker is an Associate Content Editor at Rare. Follow her on Twitter @_carlbeck.
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