• Renton school video mocking slavery goes viral; district investigating

    By: Deborah Horne


    Michelle Boyd stood outside Lindbergh High School, where she is a senior. 

    "What is it that upsets you about it?" 

    "It's racist," Boyd said.

    She recorded this video of her classmates performing a school project by changing the lyrics to a well-known nursery rhyme.

    "Old MacDonald had a slave," the students sang. "E-I-E-I-O. And with that slave he worked all day. E-I-E-I-O."

    "What's racist about it?" Boyd was asked.

    "I mean I don't think it was necessary for them to make a mockery out of it," she said. "Because people did die in slavery and stuff like. They were raped and beaten and stuff like that. I don't think that is a joke at all."

    So she confronted the students.

    "And they basically said 'well, the teacher said it's fine. Cause we got approval from two African-Americans.' "

    Then she showed the video to her mother.

    "And immediately, I stood up," said Charrita Tatum. "And said this is not okay. And I posted it on Facebook."

    Tatum said she learned almost immediately she wasn't the only one who found this offensive.

    "Anytime there's a question, it should have just been nipped in the bud," said Tatum. "I do feel like the teacher's judgment call on this was absolutely incorrect."

    "It's disturbing," said Renton school district spokesman Randy Matheson. "It's inappropriate and it needs answers."

    Matheson says with school out for Veterans Day, the teacher will have to answer for this Monday.

    "A teacher should certainly know that checking with students to find out if it's okay is not the way you go about making sure something is appropriate in the classroom," said Matheson.

    Michelle and her mother say they want the district to talk to the teacher and the students, three of whom are African-American, to make sure this doesn't happen again at Lindbergh or any other school.



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