Parents upset over playground slave game

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.,None - Parents at a Gwinnett County elementary school are upset after, they say, a teacher organized and participated in a game with children involving slavery reenactment.

Ericka Lasley told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri her third-grader came home from Camp Creek Elementary School in Lilburn last Tuesday and told her about the game.

"It was kind of like tag, but we were slaves and slave catchers," Lasley said her daughter told her.

Lasley’s 8-year-old said her teacher proposed the game based on what they were learning in Social Studies, and also participated.

"She would sit on the bench and the slave catchers would come up to the door and ask did she have any slaves," the student said.

Another parent, Charvia Rivers, said both her children shared a similar story. She said her son, Kaya Toney, is in the same class. Toney said the teacher described the game as “a game where slave catchers catch slaves.”

"I was shocked," Rivers said.

But Gwinnett County Schools spokesman Jorge Quintana said the district investigated the activity and found the teacher wasn’t involved.

"The district determined that the activity was student-initiated and that allegations regarding the teacher’s involvement were unfounded," he said in a statement.

Rivers’ daughter, third-grader Raven Toney, said the teacher played a safehouse guard, telling her and other designated slaves when to run.

"She was right there on the bench," the girl said.

Both parents said the game was inappropriate and insensitive.

"It is demeaning, dehumanizing and hurtful," Rivers said.

Lasley spoke with the school administration about the incident, and Rivers said she plans to do the same. Quintana told Viteri the district would sit down with any parent with concerns about the incident and explain what happened. He also said they are planning diversity training for staff as a result of the incident.

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