Michigan School Gives Teacher Ridiculous Suspension For Showing ‘Racist’ Blackface Footage During History Lesson

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empty classroomA well-loved Michigan middle school teacher has allegedly been suspended for showing footage of white people in blackface during a history lesson. According to the 36-year-veteran teacher, Alan Barron, the footage was used to illustrate racism during the segregation/Jim Crow era, but apparently one administrator felt that the footage was racist. I think the real problem here is that folks think you can teach a lesson racism without actually talking about, or giving examples of, racism. Sorry, but that’s not how it works.

According to The Monroe Evening News, Barron happened to show the blackface footage, which he had shown on numerous other occasions without incident, while an administrator observed the lesson. This particular administrator found the footage offensive, and reported Barron to the school district. Barron has allegedly been given a two week suspension, though the school refers to it as “leave,” and he is currently barred from all school functions, including the ceremony where his retirement was to be celebrated.

Thankfully, both students and parents have rallied around Barron, and many feel that the suspension/leave was given as a knee-jerk reaction to a non-issue. According to one parent on Facebook:

“Mr. Barron is one of the … great teachers we have in Monroe Public Schools. He has changed many children’s lives over the course of his career. If Mr. Barron felt that he was teaching something that was offensive, he would most definitely not have done it.”

Adrienne Aaron, whose African American daughter is in Barron’s class, says neither she nor her daughter found the lesson offensive or racist. From The Monroe Evening News:

“She said Mr. Barron simply was showing the students what occurred in history. She said her daughter was not offended and felt the subject needs to be discussed. She was more offended that they stopped the video. It had nothing to do with racism. History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism?”

Exactly. Since when did even discussing racism, or showing racist examples, become racist? Obviously footage like this is difficult to watch. That’s the whole freaking point Barron was trying to make. White washing and sanitizing the past because it’s hard to hear isn’t going to make things better. If you don’t learn from history, how can you stop it from repeating?

(Photo: hxdbzxy/Shutterstock)