In Arlington County, Virginia, an eighth-grade Black kid claims that his instructor made him participate in a game where he had to pick cotton with his face out of a pail.
Keisha Kirkland said her son returned home from Gunston Middle School last week and said, “Mom, you will not believe what game I played today.”
“He stumbled a couple of times trying to tell me, and I said, ‘Just spit it out, tell me,’” Kirkland said. “And he has this, like, grin on his face that’s uncomfortable, and I said, ‘Tell me.’”
Sidney Rousey said that a substitute instructed him to use his face to pick cotton out of a pail during his French session. Students would coat their noses in Vaseline and see how many cotton balls would stick when they submerged their heads in the bucket as the teacher described it as a game.
“My mouth just dropped, and I said, ‘OK, why were you playing a game like this? Why did you play?’” Kirkland said. “And he said, ‘Because I felt like I had to.’”
Kirkland said that because her kid was the only Black student in the room, he was uncomfortable. She went to the school to request answers.
In a statement, an Arlington Public Schools spokesperson called Sidney’s experience “deeply disturbing” and “commends the student for coming forward,” going on to say APS will be “promptly revisiting and reviewing” these activities.
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