After an apparent celebration kicking off the return to 11 White History Months in a row, administrators at an exclusive private school in New York are scrambling to explain reports that a teacher held a series of mock slave auctions in which white students bid on their black classmates.
According to WPIX, Rebecca Antinozzi, a white fifth-grade social studies teacher at Chapel School in Bronxville, N.Y., reportedly organized a mock slave auction where the teacher took the black students into the hall, put “imaginary chains” on their necks and wrists and shackled their ankles before parading them in front of their white classmates who posed as wealthy slave owners playing the original version of The Price Is Right’s showcase showdown.
And, apparently, this went so well Massa Becky tried the exercise again with another fifth-grade class, reports the Daily News. Through her lawyer, Antinozzi issued a statement explaining that it didn’t happen quite that way.
“The portrayal of the history lesson that has been reported is inaccurate, out of context, contains false facts and ignores the overwhelming support of Ms. Antinozzi from dozens of parents at the school,” Slavemaster Antinozzi’s attorney said. “To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day, it certainly was never intended.”
The only thing that could be gleaned from this non-denial denial is that there was definitely a slave auction. While I haven’t thought of the exact wording, if someone wrongfully accused me of hosting a slave auction and subjecting children to the irreversible trauma of the worst kind of racism that ever existed on earth, part of my statement would definitely include the words “lying motherfuckers.”
Also, what exactly was the point of this role-playing exercise? Was this teacher trying to show that slavery was bad? Does she do this with every historical era? Will she take the white students’ lunch money when they get to the Great Depression? I imagine things will get very intense when the school’s basketball team suffers a string of losses during the chapters on segregation.
Meanwhile, the school says they are “investigating” the incident and has removed the teacher from the classroom, calling the chattel slavery cosplay “racially insensitive and hurtful,” WPIX reports. New York state Attorney General Letitia James said her office is monitoring this matter closely, which is something that no one apparently did to Antinozzi’s lesson plans.
Tuition at the pre-K through 8th-grade private school costs $3,000-$13,900, according to the Daily News, not including the rebates for slave auction revenue. There is no truth to the rumors that Roots will be the Chapel School’s fifth-grade play, or that the school meted out corporal punishment to the black students who excelled in reading.
As Rebecca Antinozzi once said: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could’ve freed a thousand more if third period was a little longer.”