Fact Check — No, Spokane Students Were Not Forced to ‘Pick Cotton’

CLAIM: Black students at a Spokane, Washington, middle school were ordered to “pick cotton” as a school assignment.

VERDICT: False.

The disturbing story is already viral…

BET: “Black Middle School Students Reportedly Ordered To Pick Cotton”

NPR: “Cotton picking lesson leaves Black middle school students reeling in Spokane”

ABC: “Black students ‘humiliated’ by cotton-picking assignment”

Drudge: “SHOCK: Black Middle School Students Ordered To Pick Cotton…”

This sounds awful, right? Who would do such a thing? The mother of the two 14-year-old girls at the center of this racial storm pulled the twin girls, not only out of the class but out of the school entirely and is demanding, according to ABC News, the “removal of a school administrator whose suggestion was to separate two Black students after their mom raised concerns about a classroom assignment the students say involved cleaning cotton.”

Here’s how the mother portrayed the principal’s “suggestion”: He wanted to “segregate my girls into a room by themselves, away from the white teacher.”

She also wants the social studies teacher and “other school administrators to be disciplined for how they handled the situation.”

The outraged mother told local news, “For you to pass out cotton and to my children [and tell them] that essentially, they’re going to pick the cotton clean and it’s a race of who can get it clean first, that was extremely bothersome to me and my children” She added, “Under no circumstance … do they need to be taught what it’s like to be a slave or what it’s like to be black.”

With some reading between the lines, it’s pretty obvious what happened here, and it had nothing to do with forcing black kids to pick cotton…

Here’s how the girls themselves described what happened… [emphasis added]

Twins Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell said they were in their social studies class on May 3 when they said the teacher pulled out a box of raw cotton and told the class they were going to do a “fun” activity. The girls added the students were subsequently instructed to clean freshly picked cotton as part of a classroom assignment to see who could do so the fastest.

Let’s start with the most important point… By their own admission, the girls admit no one forced them or even asked them to “pick cotton,” which proves all these stories and headlines false.

“Cleaning” and “picking cotton” are two entirely different things. Picking cotton is obviously associated with slavery, but cleaning cotton is associated with what the school says was part of an assignment about the Industrial Revolution and cotton gin, an invention that revolutionized the cotton industry by putting an end to the tedious and time-consuming labor involved in removing the seeds from the cotton by hand.

Is it not fairly obvious that this teacher used a hands-on assignment to show the class just what a revolution the Industrial Revolution was — an assignment that had nothing to do with “picking cotton?”

Something else that gives it away is what one of the girls said: “We didn’t learn about the slave trade or anything about the history of slavery.”

In other words, the cotton wasn’t handed out in the context of slavery, it was handed out in a different context altogether, which backs up what the schools said about the lesson revolving around the cotton gin.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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