Fifth Graders in South Carolina Asked to Justify Being in the KKK
The Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, has made quite the comeback in recent months. Since the election Donald Trump, white nationalists and other hate groups like the KKK have centered themselves on the forefront of race relations in this country. They’ve held rallies like the one in Charlottesville (where counter protester Heather Heyer was murdered by a Nazi), and we have a goddamn former Grand Wizard of the KKK fawning over the president on Twitter. And now, a fifth grade class in South Carolina is being asked to put themselves in the shoes of a KKK member, and justify their actions. It is 2017, and no, we are not kidding.
The assignment, given by teacher Kerri Roberts to her fifth grade class at Oak Pointe Elementary School, is part of a lesson on the Reconstruction period. However, that is not the problem. Our kids SHOULD learn about their history. The problem is what Ms. Roberts asked her class to do as part of the assignment.
“You were there … You are a member of the KKK. Why do you think your treatment of African Americans is justified?”
Tremain Cooper’s nephew is in Ms. Roberts’ class. Obviously, when he saw the assignment, he was not happy. He posted a picture of the question on Facebook, and wrote, “CHECK IT OUT FAMILY. CHECK IT OUT FAMILY. I NEED YALL TO HELP ME. THIS IS MY LITTLE 10 YEAR OLD NEPHEW’S HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT today. HE’S HOME CRYING RIGHT NOW. THE TEACHER’S NAME IS KERRI ROBERTS AT OAKPOINT ELEMENTARY IN DISTRICT 5 IN IRMO, SC right outside of my hometown of Columbia, S.C. HOW CAN SHE ASK A 5TH GRADER TO JUSTIFY THE ACTIONS OF THE KKK??? WE ARE CONTACTING EVERYBODY FROM THE SCHOOL TO THE MEDIA. PLEASE HELP. PLEASE SHARE.”
“How can she ask a 5th grader to justify the actions of the KKK???” That is an EXCELLENT question.
Asking students to understand how and why the KKK was formed? Ok. Asking them to acknowledge the damage the KKK has done, starting with the Reconstruction period? Sure! But actually asking them to justify the hate crimes the KKK committed against people of color? Um, what the actual hell. Meanwhile, we’re wondering why the president calls Nazis “very fine people.”
The school district released a statement addressing the extremely problematic assignment. They said, “South Carolina standards for fifth grade require lessons on Reconstruction and discriminatory groups, including the K.K.K. We must teach the standard, but we are taking steps to ensure this particular assignment will never be used again in District Five schools.” The district spokeswoman, Katrina Goggins, also said the teacher has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation.
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(Image: Facebook / Tremain Cooper)