District investigating after school video mocking slavery goes viral

by: Deborah Horne, KIRO7.com Updated:

RENTON, Wash. - A senior at a high school in Washington state is upset about a video featuring her classmates that she says mocks slavery.

Michelle Boyd told KIRO7 she recorded the video this week at Lindbergh High School. For a school project, students performed a song  during which they changed the lyrics to a well-known nursery rhyme.

"Old MacDonald had a slave," the students sang. "E-I-E-I-O. And with that slave he worked all day. E-I-E-I-O."

Boyd explained why she found the video offensive. "I mean I don't think it was necessary for them to make a mockery out of it. Because people did die in slavery. They were raped and beaten and stuff like that. I don't think that is a joke at all," she said.

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Boyd confronted the students, but she claims they told her that the teacher gave them permission to perform the song.

Boyd showed the video to her mother, Charrita Tatum, who posted it on Facebook.

Tatum said she learned almost immediately she wasn't the only one who found the video offensive.

"Anytime there's a question, it should have just been nipped in the bud," Tatum said. "I do feel like the teacher's judgment call on this was absolutely incorrect."

"It's disturbing," Renton school district spokesman Randy Matheson told KIRO7. "It's inappropriate and it needs answers."

Matheson says with school out for Veterans Day, the teacher will have to answer for this Monday.

"A teacher should certainly know that checking with students to find out if it's OK is not the way you go about making sure something is appropriate in the classroom," Matheson said.

Michelle and her mother say they want the district to talk to the teacher and the students, three of whom are African-American, to make sure this doesn't happen again at Lindbergh or any other school.

A person named John Snarski on Facebook who claimed to write part of the song said the entire thing has been taken out of context and blown out of proportion. He also said he’s black and alleged Boyd was laughing during the performance.

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