ITASCA, Ill. – A slave auction skit performed by two Barrington High School students shocked parents who attended a recent convention, prompting calls for “cultural sensitivity” talks with students.
The students performed the skit in during the “roll call” portion of the 2016 Illinois Junior Classical Convention Friday at the Westin hotel in Itasca. The “roll call” segment gave each school’s delegates time to introduce their school, and video of the incident shows Barrington’s introduction featured a student with chains around his neck, NBC Chicago reports.
“Today we are going to have a Barrington bro for sale,” one of the students said.
The conference was attended by high school clubs that study ancient culture. The Barrington skit was designed to simulate an ancient slave auction, but parents like Danielle McDaniels didn’t appreciate the theatrics.
“At first glance, you would think it was a bachelor auction, but the chains kind of threw it for us,” she told CBS Chicago. “And then they said – their words, no ours – it was a slave auction.”
“Watching a live slave auction, complete with chains, it was a bit much,” McDaniels, parent of a Kenwood Academy student, told NBC Chicago. “It was overwhelming.”
The convention features both suburban and South Side Chicago students, and many of the students and parents in attendance were black.
“I was outraged,” McDaniels said. “That’s the only word I can come up with.”
The skit ended with a winning bidder for the student slave.
The Barrington students’ coach apologized for the skit at the convention, according to the news site.
“I am truly so sorry that we have errored in our attention and speed in which this incident was taken care of,” the coach said. “And there is nothing I can say to undo the pain we’ve caused, but I’m truly, truly sorry.”
A student involved also apologized the next day, as did the school district.
“Barrington School District offers sincere apologies to those offended by the actions of our high school students participating in the Illinois Junior Classical Convention this weekend,” a district statement read, according to ABC 7.
“We understand the concern and are reviewing the incident with students and staff who were involved.”
Regardless, McDaniels believes the school should do more than review the incident to ensure something similar doesn’t happen again.
“The talks need to happen,” she said, “they need to start by having cultural sensitivity.”
Several folks who commented about the incident online think the incident was overblown.
“Don’t apologize!” Paul Moeller posted to Facebook. “People need to lighten up!”
“Oh, please grow up people!” Fred Lexow wrote.
Others were clearly offended by the student presentation.
“Some school administrators and teachers are plain stupid,” Marta Michalene wrote.
“Very sad and ignorant,” Natasha Thomas posted, “plus I’m a Kentwood Academy alum (class of 2000).”
“Racist parents … racist kids!” NaNa Mommiesans wrote. “Go figure!”