Michigan school with ‘anti-racism resolution’ cancels classes, suspends teacher for worksheet comparing Obama to monkeys

The prestigious Michigan Roeper School — which, in 2021, passed an “anti-racism resolution” — canceled classes and suspended a high school biology teacher after she passed out a worksheet to students last week that compared former President Barack Obama to an assortment of monkeys.

“It made me feel disgusted — I couldn’t believe it,” Roeper’s Director of Diversity Carolyn Lett told Fox 2 Detroit. “When I first saw it, I’m trying to make sense of it myself.”

The worksheet was reportedly handed out to 30 students who were asked to identify the primates among a photo lineup of apes, monkeys, lemurs — and Barack Obama.

According to Lett, the lesson was created by two undergrad students from Duke University, and the teacher, who was immediately put on administrative leave, was unaware of its racist content.

“When this was brought to her attention she was horrified herself, and almost like beating herself up, like ‘How did I miss this,'” said Lett. “That’s how she explained it.”

 

Classes at the Detroit-area school were canceled on Thursday and counselors were brought in to talk to students.

In addition, the school issued an apology, Fox News reports.

“On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offense contained in an assignment with an upper school class last week,” Roeper said in a statement. “The choice to use this piece of curriculum was completely inconsistent with our School’s philosophy and mission and we sincerely apologize for its use and the harm it has caused.”

“While the teacher has taken responsibility and admits the mistake of not properly vetting the resource, we know that is not enough and she has been placed on administrative leave until further notice,” the school added.

Clay Thomas, chair of the Board of Trustees at the $30, 000-per-year school, told Fox 2 of the incident, “It is made all the more challenging for us because it is the antithesis of who we are as a school.”

Roeper adopted an anti-racism resolution in May of 2021 claiming that “ongoing social justice issues across our country, including the killings of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have had a profound impact on our past and present students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families at The Roeper School.”

Among the resolutions adopted by the school board is the pledge “that we believe Black lives matter” and “we condemn all forms of bullying, microaggressions, hate speech, and violence.”

On Twitter, some users aren’t convinced that the worksheet was meant to be racist at all.

“It wasn’t comparing [Obama] to monkeys, it was showing that monkeys and humans are both primates,” tweeted one user. “But go ahead and keep pushing the white supremacy angle.”

“It’s from a lesson plan developed at Duke University in 2010… when Obama was President and easily recognized,” the user added.

Another user agreed that the worksheet isn’t racist, but he’s still upset a photo of the former President was used.

“This is idiocy,” he stated. “He was literally chosen as the representation of humanity. We are primates. All of us. I’m pissed they picked that d—e as our human representative.”

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