Last year the cracker jack team of BAE launched an offensive on the Minneapolis Public Schools.
When Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson talked about her decision to resign after earning over a million dollars to preside over a district in decline, she mentioned our hashtag as something she thought was crossing the line.
Things might be bad in MPS, but insinuating that the district is anything like the white supremacist systems of the Jim Crow era is clearly over the top.
So, imagine our surprise to find out that MPS is using slave simulation software that is widely criticized by black educators nationally.
Yes, you read that right. Slavery as a computer game is a thing.
First, some context. The game is called “Mission 2: Flight To Freedom and it is intended to be “an interactive way to learn history.” It first came to our attention from Rafranz Davis, a teacher with expertise in instructional technology. She called out this software in a blog post that was shared widely on Twitter among educators of color and allies.
Flight to Freedom is a simulation of slavery meant to give students an interactive look into history. It features everything the “edtech” buzzword community loves…role playing, badges, student choice and reevaluation of failure. The problem here is that IT’S ABOUT SLAVERY…one of the darkest times in American history that STILL holds deep wounds…irresponsibly presented as a “too easy fix” on the part of the slaves themselves through decision making. Yes, Lucy…you’ll get a beating and it’s not because you are a slave who is owned by an evil slave owner…but because you chose the wrong path…thus, consequences.
Davis tested the game to investigate. At one point her character “Lucy” (a 14 year old slave girl) is approached by a “random white man.” He asks to see her walking papers. Davis chose to keep the character quiet, an action that was rewarded because her white inquisitor prefers “quiet negroes.”
Lest you think we make too much of the issue, Davis points out that black parents in Arizona have sued public schools for using slavery simulation software.
So surely we would not have this problem in the liberal north.
Alas, while this story circulated a MPS parent alerted us that this software is being used here. She raised the issue with her child’s teacher and he told her the student could opt out, but he would continue using it with other students.
Isn’t it interesting that this district thought the #JimCrowJr hashtag was harsh, but thinks putting black children – any children really – through a simulation where they will be called a “niggress” and subjective to the painful legacy of slavery is peachy.