Past students, parents and pupils are outraged at an assignment handed to Grade 7s at Parklands College. Labelled as a “fun activity”, they were asked to create an advertisement for a slave trade auction in 30 minutes. To add insult to injury, the winner of the best advert would receive a slab of chocolate when they returned to school.
This was an assignment to learn more about the Transatlantic Slave Trade, says the school. Examples of advertisements presented to students had words like “negroes” written in big letters and students of all colours were asked to put this activity together.
Angry parents and past pupils labeled the school racist and insensitive for this assignment.
“Deeply disappointed and quite frankly ashamed of a school I attended. It is one thing to learn about the slave trade, it is quite another to encourage kids to be ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS in this. Is this teacher absolutely insane?” said a past student on Facebook.
Another said, “The decision by Parklands College to give their learners this sort of assignment is just astonishingly bad, but to do it now out of all times is just an incredible failure to read the room. I want to say I’m shocked but…”
The school has since released a statement apologising for the activity, saying it could have been worded better.
“We take note of the insensitive nature of the activity at the end of the Gr 7 presentation on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The slide has been removed and the teacher has apologised for not thinking it through. The activity was intended to establish awareness of the slave trade and the manner in which the slaves were treated, as well as to teach the leaners about using resources. However, we acknowledge that the activity should have been worded differently,” read the statement.
Their insensitive response to the ordeal gathered more outrage, many felt blaming the incident on bad wording was not enough to address such a serious indiscretion.
“This “apology” is just not good enough I’m afraid. The exercise was not so much “insensitive” as it was blatantly racist. It turned a painful time in history into a game and failed to acknowledge that the struggle against racism is ongoing. I cannot even fathom how black students must have felt being asked to design a poster advertising a slave auction for “fun”. I expected more from my alma mater, and I am not only disgusted, but deeply ashamed. Do better,” said a past student.
“This is NOT an apology. ‘Insensitive nature of the activity’? ‘Not thinking it through’?
Your non-apology is racist in the extreme. And denies and deflects any responsibility or accountability. It serves to justify and uphold racist thinking, behaviour and systems. It is disgraceful,” said another concerned resident.
Many responded to the statement saying the school has long had a problem with racism and this incident has just brought this underlying problem to light.
Parklands College has since released a new statement further acknowledging the insensitivity of the activity.
Some residents took to Twitter to share their outrage as well:
This is not even an apology. They aren’t even aware of how fucked up this is if they think wording it differently would have been better #parklandsmustfall #parklandscollege #BlackLivesMatterSA #blacklivesmatter #tsekparklands https://t.co/JsxutPKW2o
— TJ (@TJ19652) June 9, 2020
say it with me, that Cape Town school is Parklands College! 👏🏾 https://t.co/FUUgpqQK69
— carebear.🥀 (@carolineyohgirl) June 9, 2020
Parklands “Racist” College https://t.co/VElmzi0ghE
— THEKO LITSOANE (23) (@theko_litsoane) June 9, 2020
Parklands College is getting what it deserves and I’m here for it! pic.twitter.com/cEyua9D3we
— Madame Chakra 🤡🔮💫 (@hernameisaza) June 8, 2020
Parklands College is very racist. Many students and teachers at the school are racist and unfortunately it is all swept under the carpet. We all know this. If you don’t, then you are part of the problem
— Mishlah (@hlali_tshumsila) June 8, 2020