Teacher allows students to dress up as Ku Klux Klan

Teacher allows students to dress up as Ku Klux Klan as they ask black classmate if they can re-enact a lynching
By UK Mail Foreign Service
25th May 2010

A U.S. teacher has defended herself after allowing members of her class to dress up as the Ku Klux Klan for a school project.

Catherine Ariemma, a history teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, allowed her students to dress up as members of the white supremacist group as part of a video assignment on the history of racism in America.

The students paraded through their school cafeteria wearing white Klan hoods last Thursday.

‘I don’t apologize’: Teacher Catherine Ariemma, who allowed her students to dress up as the Ku Klux Klan; and student Corey Rider, who was furious after the students asked his cousin if they could re-enact a lynching on him

They stopped another, black student at the school and asked if they could re-enact a lynching on him, witnesses said.

‘I don’t apologize for the project,’ a tearful Ariemma told CBS Atlanta.

‘I do apologize that someone felt threatened. I teach about United States history. I teach about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

‘I would tell the students, why don’t you film that off campus on your own time. Would I tell them not to? No, because that’s part of history and to not acknowledge it is saying, that it’s OK. I’m sorry, it isn’t. It’s unacceptable.’

Student Cody Rider told reporters the incident left him ‘outraged’.

He said he wanted to fight the students when they asked his cousin, also a student at the school, if they could ‘re-enact the lynching of him for their class project’.
‘My little cousin comes up and taps me on the shoulder, and there was fear in his eyes,’ he said.

‘He was like, he just started pointing, like he couldn’t even talk, that’s how bad it was. There was fear in his eyes, and I looked up and they are walking through the hallway in white sheets.’

However other students dismissed the incident as ‘blown out of proportion’. ‘I don’t think it’s worth getting upset about because it’s small-town talk,’ said one.

Ariemma was on paid leave for two days after the incident. She was facing dismissal – but returned to work on the day the controversial assignment was due.

A Lumpkin County High School spokesman said Ariemma had been working there for five years and had a perfect record.

‘We’re upset about it,’ the spokesman said. ‘It was inappropriate and unacceptable… It was a lapse in judgment.’

The Southern state of Georgia still struggles with the legacy of racism today, making incidents like this one flashpoints that cause outrage in the community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: