White Howard University Professor Examined Black Student in Mock Slave Auction: Report

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Caged Bird is an online magazine created by minority students for minority students across the nation. The magazine recently published a story detailing how a white Howard University professor allegedly opened a class on Frederick Douglass’ slave narrative by turning the classroom into a mock slave auction, singling out one of the two black men in the class to serve as an example.


According to the Caged Bird, the instructor, who was unidentified, was discussing how slaves were examined before they were sold and asked the black student to stand up because he looked “healthy” and “like the type of slave buyers would look for.” The professor then allegedly examined the student as if he were a piece of property in front of the entire class.

“It’s OK, I’m uncomfortable, too; I’m white,” the professor reportedly told the class.

“I stood up because I didn’t expect him to do or say the things he said and did. I didn’t sit down sooner because I was so shocked,” the student told the magazine.

The instructor even allegedly told the student to “turn around so we can see your buttocks.”

“He asked me to show my butt to the class so that he could get a better sense of my worth, and had the audacity to say that it was uncomfortable for him, too, because he’s a white man,” the student said. “I wanted to hit him ... I was being racially and sexually harassed in front of my peers, and the only thing I could think to defend myself was by punching him.”

The professor reportedly let the class know that the student would have been worth the grand sum of $400.


The Root reached out to Howard University for a statement regarding the alleged incident. The university responded by saying that it is “aware of the incident and is investigating the matter.”

Read more at the Caged Bird.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi



What really would actually have been educational: pick a white student out of the classroom, have a black student act as auctioneer, examine the white students teeth and muscles, poke him a couple times, then let the black students in the class bid on him. Don’t tell the white student what happens after the auction is over. Let him sweat a little.

THAT would have provided new perspective to the white students and the black students both.

But, you go ahead with your grade-school-play reenactment of a slave auction. That’ll be real edgy. What do I know, anyway?