One Bronx middle school teacher, Patricia Cummings, has taken the teaching of slavery to another level. During her lesson, she had three black classmates lie down on the floor and then stepped on their backs.
She was “teaching” a lesson about the Middle Passage—the forced voyage African captives were subjected to across the Atlantic Ocean during the global slave trade. They were cramped, unsanitary, and disease-infested. Most captives died before they even reached American shores.
The students told the New York Daily News that Cummings called on three black students to stretch out on the floor and asked them “You see how it was to be a slave? How does it feel?”
Since they were chained up and in a boat with a few hundred other captives in the 1600s, one child said she felt fine. Not satisfied with that answer, Cummings allegedly put her foot on the girl’s back and asked again, “How does it feel? See how it feels to be a slave?”
The New York City Department of Education removed Cummings from the classroom, reassigning her to a different position as they investigate Cummings’ conduct.
“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 Department spokeswoman Toya Holness.
On Cummings’ LinkedIn page, she writes, “I am an enthusiastic and motivated teacher who offers experience working with diverse populations and who utilizes strong teaching skills, abilities, and talent for inspiring students to achieve not only academic excellence, but to become the best possible version of themselves,” which at first sounds nice enough, but the microaggressions start becoming more apparent later.
She says that she volunteered to start a cheerleading program at the school “to prevent our middle school girls from getting involved with negative neighborhood elements.”