A lesson in slavery? Bronxville, NY- Chapel social studies teacher, Rebecca Antinozzi causes outrage after conducting mock slave auction where white students were asked to buy classmates.
Disconcert has come to the fore following the revelation of a Westchester County social studies teacher holding a mock slave auction in which white students were asked to ‘buy’ their black classmates.
The incident, which is now being investigated by officials at the Chapel School in Bronxville, was said to have occurred on Tuesday in the fifth-grade history class of Rebecca ‘Becky’ Antinozzi.
Parents told the Daily News that, according to children’s accounts, Antinozzi brought three black students into the hallway, pretended to shackle them, and then encouraged their fellow students to bid on them.
Harding said that her child was one of three African-American students who were picked by Antinozzi, who is white, to play the role of slaves.
The mother said her son later told her how he and the other students were led out into the hallway, where the teacher pretended to place imaginary chains on their necks and wrists, and shackles on their ankles.
The blacks fifth-graders were then brought back into the classroom, where their white classmates were urged to bid on them as part of the mock auction.
‘When they got inside the classroom, she started a bidding process going, ‘$100, $200 …’ and said to one of the other kids, ‘You’re a wealthy white man’ and started bidding at $300,’ Harding said.
Of note, the Daily News reported Antinozzi conducting the ‘mock’ lesson for at least two 5th grade classes.
Rebecca Antinozzi lawyer releases statement: ‘It was taken out of context.’
In an email sent Tuesday night to parents, Chapel School Principal Michael Schultz described Antinozzi’s lesson as ‘racial insensitive and hurtful.’
The teacher has been removed from the classroom pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Administrators at the school on Thursday held emergency meetings with parents to address the slavery lesson.
New York Attorney General Letitia James also weighed in on the incident, calling reports of the ‘racist’ lesson ‘deeply troubling’. James said her office is closely monitoring the situation.
Told Antinozzi’s lawyer, Jordan Brooks in a statement: ‘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, including several letters of support from African-American parents with children who have been taught by Ms. Antinozzi.’
‘Ms. Antinozzi loves her students and is beloved by them. To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day that was used solely to emphasize the tragic injustice of slavery, it certainly was never intended’.
According to her profile on the Chapel School’s website, Antinozzi has taught social studies at grades 3-5 for the past four years.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in child studies from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree in elementary and special education from Fordham University.
Founded in 1947, the Chapel School serves 320-340 students a year from pre-school through eighth grade. Tuition at the school ranges from $5,000-$13,900 a year.