Rebecca Antinozzi, a fifth-grade teacher at The Chapel School in Bronxville, is facing intense criticism after allegedly holding a mock slave auction in her class which involved putting black students in “imaginary chains” while white students were asked to bid on them. Vernex Harding, the mom of one of the black students, says she couldn’t believe when her son told her what happened.
“I was in shock,” Harding told The New York Post.
According to Harding, Antinozzi, who is white, acted as the auctioneer while encouraging the white students to imitate bidding on their classmates. Unsurprisingly, the activity upset several students, including Harding’s child.
“He was humiliated,” Harding said of her son. “My son doesn’t want to see her again, and I don’t want to see her again.”
News of the mock slave auction reached New York Attorney General Letitia James, who told The Post that she had launched an official investigation regarding the incident after being contacted by several parents of students in Antinozzi’s class.
“The reports of racist ‘lessons’ by a teacher at The Chapel School are deeply troubling,” James said in a statement. “My office is monitoring this matter closely.”
Antinozzi has not commented on the incident but Jordan Brooks, her lawyer, released a statement defending the teacher.
“The portrayal of the history lesson that has been reported is inaccurate, out of context, contains false facts and ignores the overwhelming support of Ms. Antinozzi from dozens of parents at the school, including several letters of support from African-American parents with children who have been taught by Ms. Antinozzi. Ms. Antinozzi loves her students and is beloved by them. To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day that was used solely to emphasize the tragic injustice of slavery, it certainly was never intended,” Brooks said.
Some parents have also come to her defense, with one anonymous parent telling The Post, “If it happened as I read it, it’s a horrible error in judgment, but it does not represent who she is and what she means to the kids there.”