In a so-called attempt to teach her fifth-grade students about the history of slavery, a white teacher at a Westchester, New York private school held a mock slave auction. According to the New York Daily News, she instructed the the white students to bid on their black classmates. Administrators at the Chapel School in Bronxville are currently investigating claims that Rebecca Antinozzi mimed putting imaginary chains and shackles around black students' necks and ankles, before revealing them to their white classmates who were playing the role of slave owners.
"I’m shocked and infuriated that this happened to my son," Vernex Harding, the mother of one of the black students, told WPIX. "I’m very shaken." Harding's son reportedly returned home after school and told his mother that Antinozzi took three black students out to the hallway where she allegedly told them to pretend they were chained up.
"The children were encouraged to bid on them," Harding said. "My son was humiliated."
Joshua Kimerling, an attorney representing Antinozzi, challenged the validity of the allegations lodged against his client. "The portrayal of the history lesson that has been reported is inaccurate, out of context, contains false facts, and ignores the overwhelming support of Ms. Antinozzi from dozens of parents at the school," he claimed. "To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day, it certainly was never intended."
The school's principle Michael Schultz, addressed the incident in a school-wide email, calling Antinozzi's actions "racially insensitive and hurtful." The teacher has reportedly been removed from the classroom amid the investigation.
In addition to Chapel School's probe, the incident is also reportedly being closely watched by New York Attorney General Letitia James. "The reports of racist 'lessons' by a teacher at the Chapel School are deeply troubling," James said. "My office is monitoring this matter closely."