A Wisconsin mother was stunned when her son came home with an unbelievable class assignment.
Trameka Brown-Berry of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, told Fox 6 Now that a teacher at Our Redeemer Lutheran School gave her fourth-grade son a homework assignment on Monday, January 8, asking for “3 ‘good’ reasons” for slavery and “3 bad reasons.”
That a teacher would even ask a black student for “good reasons” for slavery immediately raised red flags for Brown-Berry.
“It’s highly offensive and insensitive,” she told Fox 6 News. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe they sent something like that home.”
And she said the assignment was just as harmful to non-Black students, who were essentially being asked to advocate for slavery.
“Not only was my son in an awful position, but the students who weren’t black,” said Brown-Berry. “It’s that sort of mentality of not being able to see from another’s perspective, and only seeing through your lens–that’s what’s dangerous. That’s what keeps racism going.”
The private school declined to comment on camera; the principal, Jim Van Dellen, did admit in a statement to parents that it was a bad idea for the teacher to hand out such an assignment.
“The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have the students argue that any slavery is acceptable,” he wrote. While that particular assignment is no longer part of the class, Van Dellen claims the question wasn’t supposed to actually have a hard and fast answer. According to him, it was meant only to spark a discussion in class.
Van Dellen has promised that the school will be more diligent moving forward, and Brown-Berry is encouraging others to speak up when their children are affected by a school’s poor decisions.
Brown-Berry said, “Speak up. Tell your story. That is how you go about change. That’s what I was trying to model for my son.”