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Michigan School Under Fire After Worksheet Compares Barack Obama to Monkeys

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The Roeper School in Birmingham Michigan is the oldest K through 12 school for gifted children in the U.S. But right now, controversy is swirling around this school after students were given an assignment that billed itself as “an introduction to primates” and used a photo of former President Barack Obama.

High school biology students were given the assignment earlier this month. The school is a pricey (up to $30,000 per year) private school but it prides itself, Fox2Detroit reports, on promoting diversity and alternative education.

But the curriculum that was passed out to students directed them to pick from a gallery labeled apes, monkeys, and lemurs, and right in the middle of the second row is a photo of Barack Obama. Fox2 managed to get ahold of a photo of the assignment from someone who was understandably upset at the racist messaging that was distributed by a teacher.

How sickening is this?

So on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Roeper school was hoping to do a little damage control, sending Fox2 a statement that read:

“We are aware of the lesson taught and continue to review the incident,” the statement read. “We are not providing additional information out of respect for the privacy of our community members.”

But Fox2 also managed to obtain a letter the school sent to parents that explained the worksheet was borrowed from “a highly regarded university’ website and assigned in a high school biology class.

In part, the letter reads, “On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership I would like to acknowledge the disturbing racial offense contained in this worksheet and sincerely regret its use and the harm it caused.”

The school is offering counseling for students who were upset by the assignment and plans to continue to train staff to become better educated on racial bias in the classroom. The letter also reported that the teacher who passed out the assignment has taken responsibility and has admitted the assignment wasn’t checked out thoroughly enough.

It’s completely understandable that folks were upset by this. We are primates. In fact, we’re classified as great apes. According to the Australian Museum:

“Humans are classified in the sub-group of primates known as the Great Apes.”

“Humans are primates, but the primates that we most closely resemble are the apes. We are therefore classified along with all other apes in a primate sub-group known as the hominoids (Superfamily Hominoidea).

The Obamas were frequently called “apes”, such as by this woman who called Michelle Obama an “Ape in Heels.”

If the school wished to represent the assignment in a less upsetting way, they should have included photos of several groups of humans — Whites, Blacks, and Asians and not just single out Obama.

After all, Michelle Obama has been cruelly compared to apes in a most unflattering way. Someone at that school was either asleep on the job or people there are more racist than many of us like to think.

I think the school should apologize to Obama, don’t you?





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