New York City Teacher Accused of Stepping on Black Students During Slavery Lesson


A white New York City teacher is being accused of taking a lesson on U.S. slavery a little too far.

Patricia Cummings is a middle school teacher in the Bronx and allegedly stepped on African American students to show them what slavery felt like, according to the New York Daily News.

“It was a lesson about slavery and the Triangle Trade,” one of her students said.

The lesson was on the Middle passage where Africans were kidnapped and brought to the United States as slaves, the Daily News reported.

“She picked three of the black kids,” the student added, recalling that they were then instructed to lay on the floor in front of the class. “She said, ‘You see how it was to be a slave?’ She said, ‘How does it feel?'”

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The student than recounted that when a student on the floor joked that she felt fine, the teacher stepped on her.

“She put her foot on her back and said ‘How does it feel? See how it feels to be a slave?'”

A different student said that the teacher measured “the length and width (of the students on the floor) to show how little space slaves had in the ship. It was strange,” according to Fox News.

A video of how slaves were treated on the ship during their passage to America preceded the enacted history lesson, according to the student.

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Cummings reportedly repeated this demonstration in front of multiple seventh-grade social studies classes two weeks ago.

One Twitter user reacted to the allegations.

The student body of Middle School 118 is 81 percent black and Hispanic, and only 3 percent white.

Cummings was reportedly removed from her position following the incident, but she returned to class on Thursday. Later that day she was reassigned to tasks that kept her away from children after the city Education Department was contacted by reporters.

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“While the investigation has not been completed, these are deeply disturbing allegations, and the alleged behavior has no place in our schools or in society,” spokeswoman Toya Holness said.

Middle School 118 Principal Giulia Cox declined to comment on the issue, according to the Daily News.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith