A class presentation listing 'pros' and 'cons' of slavery is why we need racism education

How race and racism are handled in schools has been an issue for decades, but the debate has been pushed into the spotlight in the past couple of years as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum. Hysteria over critical race theory (or what people think critical race theory is) has overtaken school board meetings and resulted in legislation governing what can and can't be talked about in the classroom when it comes to race and racism.

A viral photo of a class presentation listing the pros and cons of slavery illustrates how vital it is to incorporate racism education in schools. The watering down of American slavery has gone on for far too long, and no matter what the assignment was here, this kind of slide has no place in a classroom.

The image, which seems to have first been shared in 2016, shows what appears to be a student presenting a slide with the title, "IS SLAVERY ALWAYS BAD?" followed by a list of "pros" and "cons" of enslaving people.

According to the presentation, the pros of slavery include:

- Slaves would be beneficial for some companies due to faster work performance

- Not all slaves are treated with neglect

- Most slaves have food, shelter, and clothing

- Slavery can be viewed as an opportunity to pay off debt.

And the cons listed were:

- Slaves were sometimes harshly beaten

- Slaves have little to no freedom

- Families may be separated

- Slavery goes against human rights.

Hoo boy. Lots to unpack here.

We don't know what class this photo came from—maybe history, maybe a debate class—but it doesn't matter. There is one, and only one, correct answer to the question the slide poses. YES, slavery is always bad. End of discussion. There are things that are simply not debatable, and slavery is one of them.

But unfortunately, it's far too common for Americans to engage in these kinds of "let's weigh the pros and cons before determining if making Black people work for free, using violence and family trauma to keep them enslaved for centuries, was really as evil as it sounds" arguments. It's been happening in textbooks and classrooms throughout our history. It's wrong. It has always been wrong.

We don't even have to stretch our imaginations very far to understand why it's wrong.

Imagine a slide asking, "IS GENOCIDE ALWAYS WRONG?" with a list of pros that include "A smaller population would be beneficial for some due to fewer mouths to feed" and "Many people killed in a genocide aren't tortured before they die." No. We don't do that. Never ever.

Imagine a pros and cons list like this for domestic violence. Pro: Abusers get what they want. Con: Sometimes the abused get physically injured. Ridiculous, right?

Imagine asking high schoolers to make a pros and cons list for drunk driving. No. That would be asinine.

But some people treat slavery as if it's debatable how bad it was. I once had someone try to convince me that slavery wasn't all that bad because "many slaves were considered members of their owner's family and weren't mistreated." As if being enslaved was not mistreatment in and of itself. The mental gymnastics some Americans will do to make slavery sound better than it was is astounding.

The fact that this slide was made and presented to a classroom in the 21st century is an indication that education about racism in schools is necessary. This slide is racism, and the fact that that's not obvious to everyone is exactly the problem.

This kind of presentation is what happens when you teach slavery as if it were just another policy decision and not the racist, dehumanizing evil driven by white supremacy and greed that it was. We need to teach history honestly and thoroughly, explaining the racist ideology that led to racist chattel slavery in the United States and the racist oppression that followed emancipation. Otherwise, we end up with this kind of whitewashed, false-equivalency pros and cons list that has no place in a civilized society.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn


The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less
Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.


Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

Screenshot taken from a live video of the trial.

A recent (and fairly insensitive) sketch from “Saturday Night Live” said it best regarding the widespread fixation many have on the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial:

“It’s not the most pertinent story of the moment, but with all the problems in the world, isn’t it nice to have a news story we can all collectively watch and say ‘glad it ain't me?’”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard Trial Cold Open - SNL www.youtube.com

Schadenfreude, celebrity fascination and previously inaccessible information now being at our fingertips is a potent combination in this trial, making amateur lawyers and psychologists of all who feel compelled to unleash their hot takes. And though the right to converse and speculate exists, is it always in our best interests to do so? Especially when it means potentially spreading misinformation, or at the cost of empathy and compassion?

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less