Hillel Academy apologises for controversial slavery assignment
The Hillel Academy, located in upper St Andrew and is the school of choice for wealthy Jamaicans and some expatriate families, was on Friday forced to issue a public apology after a controversial assignment on the Transatlantic Slave Trade was widely circulated and just as widely condemned.
The history assignment, for grade nine students, appeared to have sought to justify both slavery and the slave trade. The Board of Hillel Academy has apologised for the controversial history assignment requiring them to choose a model of punishment they would impose on enslaved blacks. There has been intense public pressure on social media over the assignment.
The assignment was under the broad heading “Punishments for Enslaved People and was issued on March 6 to be handed in on the 8th
It said that during the slave trade, enslaved people had no rights. It also said whites could do to enslaved people whatever they wanted. It also noted that there was no compassion or justice for blacks and then asked students to “create a model of a punishment method of choice.” Among punishment methods listed were shackles, the cat-o-nine, mutilation, bear trap, thump screw and slave collar.
The controversial and, for some, distasteful assignment, asked students to explain how the punishment worked and how it was imposed, and to give three reasons justifying the use of the particular punishment. Of note is that the assignment suggested that the justification for the enslavement of African people was their “lack of civility.”
It asked students to discuss their choice of punishment as a demonstration of European civility.
Feeling the heat from mounting criticism on social media, the Board of Hillel Academy on Friday evening said in a statement that: “We apologise to our students and we continue to dialogue with each student who received the assignment.”