A Montessori school in Massachusetts was called out after one of its teachers made young students design and wear Blackface masks for a Black History Month project. According to NBC10 Boston, the incident happened at IC Kids in Newton last Tuesday.
A mother who got to know about what had transpired registered her displeasure and subsequently withdrew her children from the school. “This is unacceptable and don’t really understand the concept of this project,” the mother, identified as Nadirah Pierce, told the news outlet.
IC Kids addressed the incident on Facebook and issued an apology. But that did not calm tempers. The school then posted a statement on its premises to announce the facility was being shut down because of “safety concerns.” The statement also said, “hearing of protests happening at the center will put the children and staff at risk.”
“To celebrate ‘black history month’, a teacher in toddler classroom [sic] at ICKids planned and carried out an activity that involved black masks ‘blackface.’ [sic] One of the parents brought it to our attention and was offended; The teacher apologized to the parent,” the statement added.
The school also apologized for the Facebook post and said the teacher in question had been “released from her employment.”
“While wording of Facebook apology was not the best statement, we were trying to send a message to say that research for toddler curriculum was not executed or completed in the manner that It [sic] should have been, so we apologize to every and anyone this may have offended,” the statement explained.
But Pierce said the apology they received was “empty”, adding that the Facebook apology was also “disheartening.” “I hope this is a lesson to possibly really prepare to do projects on cultures before doing them to avoid a hurtful gesture to a group of people.”
“Having children participate in an activity in which they draw Black faces is shameful,” Professor Johnnie Hamilton-Mason told NBC10 Boston. She also said Black History Month shouldn’t be about perpetuating stereotypes.
“It makes fun of them, they’re not really human, they’re human, but they’re less than human,” she said.