A sixth grade student from Seattle is going viral for her honest, indignant answers to a misguided school assignment on "Family Origins." Asked a variety of questions about how her ancestors came to America, the African-American girl pointed out how tone-deaf the ditto was by answering matter-of-factly about the horrors of slavery. And she didn't sugar-coat it at all.
The girl's mother, "Brandy with a Y" on Twitter, proudly shared an image of the worksheet along with the message: "I found it. LMFAO! Can y'all sense how fed up my daughter was with this assignment?" Reading the responses, it's not difficult to sense at all.
1. Where did your family immigrate from? Africa
2. When did they immigrate? Whenever the slave owners took them
3. Why did they immigrate? Because the white man wanted free labor
4. Who did they immigrate with? Other slaves
5. Did they know anybody here before they came? No, because they were stolen
6. What was life like when they first came here to live? Horrible
7. Do you still have family where they came from? I don't know
8. Why is it important to know your family history? So that you know traditions and family values
Vox reached out to Brandy with a Y to comment on her daughter's answers. From what she wrote, it seems like being a keen observer of American history runs in the family:
Her hesitation was in the way the assignment was worded. It suggested the students "go back as far as you can," but continually referred to "immigrants." That immediately made her think of relatives/ancestors that came to America from another country. And for us that would obviously be west Africa. Of course we know the history of how today's African American came to be in America and I find it to be one of America's dirty little secrets and this assignment is proof positive of that.
The general assumption is made that everyone has some grand success story of families leaving their home country and coming to America in search of better opportunities. But the simple and plain truth is that not all of us have this story to tell and the ability to trace one's ancestry is a privilege within itself — one that most if not all black Americans do not have.
If the school system can be this oblivious to the horrors of American history, everybody clearly needs to be hit over the head with reminders like these. Luckily, there are sardonic teenagers to do it.