A white teacher in Rochester, New York, is clapping back in the form of a lawsuit after being accused of making Black students pick cotton as part of a history lesson.
Patrick Rausch says his lesson was misconstrued and he’s the victim of a social media campaign of “inflammatory and untrue statements,” Democrat & Chronicle reports. In his lawsuit, Rausch admits to bringing cotton into his class as part of a history lesson about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin but says the allegations that made national headlines are false.
The Rochester City School District teacher says he only brought the unprocessed cotton to class to show how difficult it was to pick seeds by hand. Now Rausch is suing a local social justice organization, Save Rochester Inc., and two parents who made the claims on social media.
“Rausch made it clear that he was not requiring the students to touch the cotton and remove the seeds, and that it was completely voluntary for them to do so,” the lawsuit states.
“The students — both black and white — were eager to touch the cotton and try to remove the seeds from the cotton, and most chose to do so.
He also calls out other allegedly false allegations that were made against him, including that he forced Black students to put on handcuffs and shackles.
“Rausch was careful to explain to the students that he understood that some people may not be comfortable touching the cotton or picking the seeds out because such work is historically associated with slavery, that he in no way was trying to make them feel like slaves, and that participation was entirely voluntary.”
Rausch claims the social justice organization and parents tried to make it look like he singled out Black students to pick cotton as part of the history lesson on slavery.