A Black mother is angry, claiming her daughter and her Black and brown classmates were forced to pick seeds from cotton and subjected to shackles and handcuffs for a history lesson on slavery by their teacher.
“My daughter said she felt like a slave,” said Precious Morris about how her daughter told her her seventh-grade social studies teacher, Patrick Rausch, at Rochester School of the Arts in Rochester, New York, allegedly gave his students a traumatic lesson about slavery in America and even had students call him “massah”.
“Mr. Rausch forced my child, Ja’Nasia Brown to pick seeds out of cotton, and when she refused, he told her if she doesn’t finish picking seeds out of cotton, she won’t get a good grade and that traumatized my daughter because she was forced to do something she didn’t want to do because she knew it was absolutely wrong,” Morris said.
Morris says Rausch, who is white, did not force the white students in class pick cotton seeds, adding to the anguish felt by her daughter who was also allegedly told if she didn’t pick the seeds she would fail the assignment. “For him to not allow the Caucasian kids to proceed with picking seeds out of the cotton that showed our Black children that the whites have more privilege,” Morris said.
Morris took to social media to publicly display her anger, and her post, which shows a piece of the cotton given to her daughter, garnered hundreds of shares.
Atlanta Black Star sought comment from the Rochester City School District to get answers on Rausch’s alleged racist classroom conduct and what the district is doing about it, but the district did not respond to our requests before this report was filed.
WXXI reports Rausch is a “tenured teacher and is on paid leave.”
“For him to be getting paid, it’s unacceptable for me. I don’t want him to be getting paid, needless to say, I want his teaching license revoked,” Morris said angrily of Rausch’s employment status.
“The district has a Herculean task in proving Patrick Rausch should remain in his current position as a seventh-grade social studies teacher,” said Mike Johnson, director of Save Rochester, a Rochester based nonprofit organization focused on underserved communities impacted by poverty and discrimination.
Like Morris, Johnson wants Rausch removed from the classroom altogether. He says Rausch’s alleged history lesson further demonstrates the value of accurate Black history being taught in schools.
“The sheer disregard and empathy for our ancestors and what they went through during slavery is what’s at the crux at the issue,” Johnson said.
Morris says her daughter is traumatized by what happened in class and she and other affected parents are considering legal action against the school district. Morris also says she’s disappointed, a week after the alleged incident, she has not received an apology from the Rochester City Schools Superintendent nor the Rochester Mayor.
“I haven’t heard anything from the superintendent or the mayor at all and today makes a whole week,” Morris said.