The parents of 7-year-old in Douglas County, GA are upset that their daughter was assigned a racist role in a school play. Anastasia Bertram is a student at Burnett Elementary School. In her school’s theatrical production, she took on the part of a white girl who opposes desegregation after another student couldn’t remember the lines, the parents told WSBTV.
But Anastasia’s mom Amber says that’s not the part she signed up for. She claims that when the teacher presented her with a paper for her daughter to take part in the play, it was for a different role.
Anastasia can be seen on video, shouting “Go away you don’t belong here,” and then she grabs a sign that reads: “Please go home” on one side and “Cursed is the man who integrates” on the other side.
“No, I’m gonna have a child stand on stage and tell black children to go away because they’re black. That is the option that we chose,” said Anastasia’s mother, Amber, “She’s 7, and you put her onstage and made her think what she was doing was OK? That’s not OK.”
The parents told WSBTV that her teacher, Mrs. James, did not ask them for consent for Anastasia to play that part and reached out to her online to air their dismay and disapproval.
Amber wrote in a message to Mrs. James:
“Ma’am, I understand your position, but we have several points to make: #1 Anastasia is 7 years old. She is taught to help adults as much as possible and to follow adult instructions unless it will physically harm her. In our home there are consequences for breaking these rules. So, what she saw was the teacher needing help (according to you) and so she volunteered to help (according to you). Then when given the lines she was simply following adult instructions. At 7 years old there was absolutely no way possible she could have understood the compromising position she was putting herself in,” she said.
“Also, because this play was photographed and videotaped by several parents and with today’s technology those images of my child can easily be altered to make it appear as if my child is not in a play but simply holding a sign telling black children to go away. This is NOT an image I want portrayed of my child. Nor did she have consent to be photographed and videotaped in this play. The point still stands that this play did nothing but perpetuate the idea of racism and teach my child that the school sanctions her discriminating against anyone who doesn’t look like her.”
She ended by saying:
“Under no circumstances is it ok in a play or not for you to have my child (one of the only white children in the school I might add) hold a sign telling black children to go away because they are black. My husband and I are extremely upset, shocked and embarrassed by this incident.”
The teacher responded back, saying: “It was never my intention to isolate or make any racial group feel bad. I apologize for this, thanks for bringing this to my attention.”
The Douglas County school district Superintendent Trent North followed up with a voicemail saying:
“I am calling to apologize. I was unaware of the treatment of your daughter,” North said. North said the district has launched an investigation into the incident.
Those words and actions were apparently not enough for Anastasia’s parents. They have pulled her out of the school.