Anne Arundel County student's essay tackling racism sparks controversy

A school assignment that was supposed to teach students how to write satire, is causing serious complaints of racial insensitivity in Anne Arundel County.

Students at North County High School in Glen Burnie were asked to mimic an essay from the 1700s, using exaggerated arguments to show complex issues don’t have simple answers.

When one student decided to use race relations as his subject, people didn’t take it as satire, they took it as offensive.

In 1700, Johnathan Swift wrote an essay on poverty called “A Modest Proposal,” it was intended to be satire, with wild suggestions like having poor families sell their children to rich people. Fast forward to 2016, when a student at North County High School was assigned to come up with a modern day version of Swift’s essay, the student chose racial strife as his target. Instead of being filled with ways to get rid of minority injustice, the student instead stocked the paper with ways to get rid of minority people. The other students at the school aren’t laughing.

"In a way there's been a huge impact to everybody, I'm honestly still completely hurt by it," Eric Procter a student at North County High School expressed.

Procter isn’t the only student upset, Talleah Bonds says that everyone is taking it very hard and the essay should have been taken a different way.

The paper made its way onto social media networks after the student posted it online. Much of the language is blunt, offensive and has angered many people. The main theme of the essay was that to eliminate racial strife would be to eliminate African Americans.

The paper suggested “the solution would involve corralling” black people in the Sahara Desert and then using a nuclear weapon to wipe them out. There are also racially charged references to the holocaust, single parent homes, drug use and hate crimes.

Anne Arundel County school officials brought extra staff into the school today to hold conversation with the students on the fallout from the paper.

School officials maintain that the assignment was supposed to teach satire, but they say given the outrage at the school, they are re-evaluating  if the assignment should continue in the future.

"Clearly, the subject that this student picked is insensitive, it's ill-advised and has stoked concern anger frustration among students and staff alike," explained Bob Moiser with Anne Arundel County Schools.

The leader of the Caucus of African American leaders in Anne Arundel County, Carl Snowden, says moving forward, first amendment free speech rights are important, but at the same time teachers need to do a better job of educating students how to talk and write about sensitive racial issues, without being offensive.

 

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