Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris. I am going to try to organize my own.
Unfortunately, films (and I am sure other forms of media) feature slavery all of the time without much uproar. Here is what is most likely a partial list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_featuring_slavery.
I watched the news piece included in your blog, and I feel like I am responding more to that than your blog. The news the report mentioned that the slave auction skit was a part of a role call to showcase school spirit and that the skit eventually won the school spirit competition. I’m kinda speechless. Questions:
a) How does a teacher allow students to plan and practice this skit?
b) Who the heck is voting for this skit as a winner of a school spirit competition?
I am not a history teacher either, but I just did a quick review of my state social studies standards, and I am assuming that the African slave trade is introduced in the second grade under the standard that says, “identify reasons people came to the United States throughout history,” because by fourth grade, there is a standard related to my state’s role in Reconstruction.
Even if we did explicitly teach about slavery in the second grade, it’s not images of ancient Greek and Roman slaves our students are exposed to; it’s black and brown slaves. And those images are repeated over and over again. Therefore, when a slave auction is recreated as a school spirit skit, it is hard not to take it “personally.” It doesn’t “feel” accidental.
I think you are right that we have not healed from the horrors of American slavery, and we won’t if we don’t start having these conversations. Thanks for having the courage to write about it.