A New York middle school teacher is under scrutiny for performing an unusual demonstration involving black students during a lesson on slavery.
The New York Daily News reported that social studies teacher, Patricia Cummings, who is white, singled out black students and got them to lie on the floor during the lesson. She then allegedly stepped on the back of at least one student to show what it felt like to be slave.
Students at Middle School 118 in the Bronx told the paper that Cummings repeated this stunt in multiple seventh-grade classes earlier this year.
“It was a lesson about slavery and the Triangle Trade,” said one of Cummings’s students.
The boy said Cummings picked three black students to lay on the floor in from the class.
When one girl said she was fine, Cummings stepped on her back, recounted the student.
“She put her foot on her back and said ‘How does it feel?'” the student said. ” ‘See how it feels to be a slave?’ ”
Students told Daily News that the lesson was conducted after a showing of a video depicting slaves being beaten, tortured and thrown over the side of a ship.
Another student said: “She was measuring the length and width [of the students lying on the floor] to show how little space slaves had in the ship. It was strange.”
Cummings, who has worked in education since 2016, was reportedly removed from her duties after the incident but returned to class on Feb. 1. The Education Department told the paper that Cummings was reassigned to work away from children later in the day.
“While the investigation has not been completed, these are deeply disturbing allegations, and the alleged behavior has no place in our schools or in society,” said spokeswoman for the Education Department, Toya Holness.
Cummings and the school principal declined to comment to the paper.
The student population at the middle school is 81 percent black and Hispanic and 3 percent white.