A mother in Spokane, Washington, is calling for the removal of school officials after a racially insensitive assignment for her daughters that reportedly involved picking cotton.
According to ABC News, the mother, Brandi Feazell, was informed by her 14-year-old twin daughters that their teacher at Sacajawea Middle School assigned them and other students to pick cotton in a race to see who could pick it the fastest. The assignment is a reminder of a time when Blacks were enslaved and forced to pick cotton on plantations in the South.
The offensive classroom assignment was given on May 3rd during Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell’s social studies class. They told the news o utlet they were “hurt” and “shocked” during the lesson and told their mother.
“For you to pass out cotton and to my children [and tell them] that essentially, they’re going to pick the cotton clean and it’s a race of who can get it clean first, that was extremely bothersome to me and my children,” Brandi Feazell told the network. “Under no circumstance … do they need to be taught what it’s like to be a slave or what it’s like to be Black.”
The mother reached out to Sacajawea’s Principal Assistant Taylor Skidmore about their teacher’s tone-deaf lesson. Unfortunately, not only did the administration support the assignment, but also recommended that the two girls separate themselves from the teacher to avoid participating in the project, ABC reports.
“[The teacher] is still at work and yet my kids are being punished when I’m told that the best thing they could do for my kids at that point was to segregate them into a room by themselves away from the white teacher,” Feazell tells the television news outlet.
Spokane Public School District released an open statement explaining that the lesson was to help students learn about the Industrial Revolution and the cotton gin. A representative of the district, however, tells ABC News that a third-party investigation was also taking place.
“We hope that these teachers and educators are going to fulfill and thrive and grow and help us create these children that are going to be productive citizens in the world and make it a better place,” Feazell tells the network. “When I sent my children to school that day, they came back with their mental and their spirit and their emotional beings of themselves broken.”
The twins are currently not attending school and Feazell. “The family is calling for the social studies teacher and other school administrators to be disciplined for how they handled the situation. They are also calling for the removal of Skidmore, as well as a formal apology from the school district,” the report says