I have just seen this article online – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4327714/Teacher-Howard-University-holds-mock-slave-auction.html It makes for an interesting and thought-provoking read.
I am a historian and have studied Fredrick Douglass’ life in detail. His life was shocking but inspirational. Sometimes, simply reading about historical events doesn’t quite hit the necessary note for enlightenment. I believe the tutor was trying to shock the class into realising just how dreadful the slave trade was. Yes, it made students uncomfortable; slavery was a disgusting practice that should never be permitted to happen. What they failed to appreciate was that this human cattle market happened in real life, not just in a classroom as a part of historical storytelling. In a different context, slavery is now abundant in the form of people trafficking. In real life, the black students would never have set foot in a classroom and, possibly, would have been naked whilst being assessed for ‘good health’. I feel this lesson went as far as is acceptable to get students to realise the true nature of slave auctions. The tutor wanted his students to realise how morally unacceptable it is to single out and degrade one race, culture or creed. I don’t believe he intended to shame his white students into feeling apologetic for the actions of previous generations.
My only criticism is that the tutor should have discussed his plans with the black students and got their permission beforehand, and should have explained the content and objectives of the lesson.
Racism is on the rise globally and we should not shy away from uncomfortable truths about past behaviours. This white supremacist article was also found by searching ‘University’. Worrying. http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/03/white-supremacist-posters-on-display-at-auckland-university.html We should open our eyes and take action before the global racism situation creates future devastation. Education, however shocking, is the way forward.