A teacher at Monroe Middle School in Michigan was suspended for showing his students a video about the history of blackface. According to Monroe News, Alan Barron wanted to show his eighth-grade class some of the realities of the Jim Crow South, since his class was currently covering the era. He put on a video showing how white entertainers used to paint their faces to imitate black people, but before the video was over, the assistant principal ordered that he turn it off.
According to the town’s local newspaper, the assistant principal viewed the video about blackface to be racist and offensive.
The school district’s spokesman offered a statement about the suspension. “Mr. Barron has been on leave for about a week while we look into a reported situation in his classroom,” he explained. “Because this is a personnel matter that is going through the teacher-contract required steps, we cannot comment any further.”
Parents and students alike were devastated by the news, insisting that Barron was a great teacher and that his actions were not racist.
“It had nothing to do with racism,” said Adrienne Aaron, the parent of a student in Barron’s class. “History is history. We need to educate our kids to see how far we’ve come in America. How is that racism?” Aaron added that her daughter, who has a black father, was not offended by the video.
Barron was planning to retire in two weeks. Since he is on suspension, he will not be able to attend certain school functions, such as an upcoming banquet that is honoring him and a few other teachers.
The town of Monroe was also in the news in March, when a high school band teacher was suspended for duct-taping a student’s ankles to a chair to improve her posture when playing her instrument.
Do you think the school went too far by suspending Barron?