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Harriot writes: "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."

A classroom. (photo: Nicholas Fevelo/NY Daily News)
A classroom. (photo: Nicholas Fevelo/NY Daily News)

NY School Holds Mock Slave Auction Selling Black Students to White Kids

By Michael Harriot, The Root

12 March 19


fter 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.”

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-2 # ajzerkin 2019-03-12 10:18
I think the snarky tone of this piece is uncalled for. I'd be interested in knowing more about how the exercise was conducted, what the discussion afterward was like, what the teacher's pedagogical purposes were, how the students felt about the simulation, and what they say they learned from it before passing judgment. Matters of race are fraught with difficulty, and I think we need to cut people a little slack before we cut their heads off, lest no-one will dare touch these subjects at all.
+8 # lfeuille 2019-03-12 19:32
I think it's pretty easy to guess how the black students felt and I think there is no excuse for putting them in that position.
-2 # janie1893 2019-03-12 15:53
I agree with 'ajzerkin'
+7 # they said what? 2019-03-12 18:36
Given the history of racism, perhaps it might have been more instructive if the white students had been sold at the slave auction, although I don't think that's so great.

There was a teacher who tried to teach her class about prejudice by separating the children by eye color. You can read about it here.

It sounds like the teacher in this article could have gotten better ideas on how to teach about prejudice from the TEACHING TOLERANCE Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
+1 # PeacefulGarden 2019-03-12 19:58
At a prominent Philadelphia charter school, I applied for a position as a teacher. Part of the hiring process was to view lessons which were recorded on video. The lesson I was to watch was a white teacher telling an all black classroom to imagine themselves aboard a slave ship making passage to the Americas from Africa. They squeezed into a small space and had to stay their for approximately 30 minutes.

I was to write my thoughts about the lesson. I wrote a scathing opinion about the ignorance of the lesson. I states it was racism at its worst because the children were in 2nd grade; they would not understand the main issues of the journey, let alone a white teacher talking about slave ships.

They called me into an interview where I was asked about my essay, they considered me too liberal and radical. These were young black educators. I repeated my upset about the lesson, and yep, walked out of the interview.

There is no place for white teacher to be discussing slavery and any issue of slavery until white America pays restitution for the crimes committed by our White Christian Military Government, end of story. The day that our federal government pays each black American hundreds of thousands of dollars is the day lessons like this can be planned and implemented.

You do not talk about slavery with black American 2nd graders without their parents present. And, looky here, I am not black. I am brown.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-03-13 09:45
The whole absurdity might have made a more enlightening exercise for the students had Black owners bought white slaves.

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