North Carolina teacher resigns after making ‘field slaves’ comment to Black students

Parents say this isn't an isolated incident and is indicative of an ongoing issue.

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An educator at a North Carolina charter school has resigned from her position after she sparked outrage for telling her Black students that they would probably still be “field slaves” if it wasn’t for the U.S. Constitution.

During an English class on Sept. 17, the unidentified teacher asked all her Black students to raise their hands, reports WITN-TV. Allegedly, that’s when she then made the racially-charged comment.

“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves. Her field slaves,” Kanisha Tillman, a parent, told WITN-TV.

Seven days later, Winterville Charter Academy Principal Annastasia Ryan issued a statement to parents and community members, “As soon as we were made aware of each incident, we immediately took action,” reads the statement. “The result was a teacher resignation and the children involved being disciplined in accordance with our Parent and student handbook…These situations concern us, too. Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love, and respect to serve all children and their families. The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.”

Colleen Cullison, spokeswoman for National Heritage Academies, the parent institution of Winterville Charter Academy, also confirmed to The Denver Gazette that the “school leadership” had responded “immediately” after hearing about the incident. 

Despite these official statements against the teacher’s actions, parents say this isn’t an isolated incident and instead is indicative of an ongoing issue that the school has in regards to how Black students are treated very differently from their white counterparts.

According to Insider, white student was accused of calling a Black student a “monkey.” When the Black student reportedly asked for help from a teacher, they claim they were flippantly told, “‘Oh, it’s okay. We’re all a little bit racist.’”

However, when a Black student called a white student a “cracker,” that same teacher allegedly took it seriously and threatened the Black student with disciplinary action. According to Tillman, that tone-deaf moment was rehashed on a Facebook page for the school’s parents, as was another incident that took place when a group of Black girls at Winterville tried to explain why it is racist to call a person of color a “monkey.”

Allegedly , the Black girls were dismissed by unnamed teacher who said to them, “It’s OK, You’re all my little monkeys.”

“I don’t believe the school had no idea before Sept. 20,” Tillman told the AP. “I believe that the school was aware of it and they decided just to keep brushing it off.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Winterville Charter Academy, which opened in 2015, currently has 661 students and over half of that population consists of children who identify as Black or African-American.

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