Blavity: A high school performance mocking slavery is under investigation after going viral … pic.twitter.com/L3YOJSeOqI— Alvin Singh (@bookido) November 13, 2017
Washington high school students found themselves in hot water after a video went viral of them making a joke of slavery.
The footage shows the Lindbergh High School students performing a rendition of the nursery rhyme "Old MacDonald" in class that aims to address slavery in the United States. Student Michelle Boyd filmed the clip of her classmates performing the jingle for their civics project, Blavity reports.
"Old MacDonald had a slave," the students in the video sang. "E-I-E-I-O. And with that slave, he worked all day. E-I-E-I-O."
Boyd said she felt compelled to expose the clip because she was disgusted.
"I mean I don't think it was necessary for them to make a mockery out of it. Because people did die in slavery. They were raped and beaten and stuff like that. I don't think that is a joke at all," she reportedly said.
Apparently, the students told Boyd that their teacher permitted them to perform the song in class. However, a spokesperson for the school district, Randy Matheson, described the ordeal as "disturbing."
"It's inappropriate and it needs answers," Matheson said. "A teacher should certainly know that checking with students to find out if it's OK is not the way you go about making sure something is appropriate in the classroom."
A formal investigation into the incident is underway, but Boyd and her mother want the district to speak to the teacher and students involved. Ironically, three of those students are African-American.
Alas, one of the students, John Snarski, responded to the backlash, maintaining that the video was taken out of context and accusing Boyd of expressing fake outrage as she was purportedly laughing the entire time the group was performing the song.
Nevertheless, black students — and the community at large — should use this as a lesson to tread lightly with how their own culture and history is portrayed. The fact you are black doesn't give you a free pass to be insensitive to black issues that may offend others, including fellow African-Americans.
Furthermore, by addressing these serious issues with such lightheartedness, you may be inadvertently giving permission to people of other races to do the same and, in turn, prompt them to make egregious decisions, such as dress up in blackface or casually throw the "n-word" into their daily vernacular thinking it's humorous.
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