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Md. Student's Essay Tackling Racism Sparks Controversy

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) -- Controversy at a Maryland high school. A student's assignment is getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Some are even calling it racist.

Ava-joye Burnett has more on how this all started.

It was supposed to be a lesson on an essay written in the 1700s, but one student's take on it has caused an uproar. WJZ wants to warn you, this story may be disturbing.

The original satirical essay, "A Modest Proposal," tackled the famine in Ireland back in the 1700s. The student at North County High's essay tackled racism in America today.

The author in the 1700s suggested the unimaginable solution of eating babies as a fix for a famine. The student suggested the equally unimaginable response to racism in America, sending African-Americans to the Sahara Desert to be killed.

The essay quickly made its rounds at the school and online.

"A lot of people are very angry about it," said Araloluwa Adekunjo, student.

"Really, it was disrespectful and he shouldn't have posted it," said Nate Blair, student.

"It has me and a lot of other students that go to North County very upset. It's disgraceful," said Mackenzie Barnes, student.

This isn't the first time students have done the assignment. The school system says the goal was to give students a lesson in satire.

In a letter sent home to parents, North County Principal Julie Cares said: "Just as one could argue that the content of [the original] piece was ill-advised and insensitive, such is the case with the content of the student's piece."

A school spokesperson reinforced the same message.

"The student chose a subject matter that was clearly insensitive and struck a nerve with students here and staff members here. And so, they have been meetings today where the staff has tried to allow students to express their opinions and say why they're hurt, why they're angered," said Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel County Schools.

As tensions continue to run high, more staff will be on hand Wednesday, as the school deals with the essay that struck a nerve.

"That's not something that you can just joke about," said Blair. "That's wrong, and it hurts people's feelings."

School officials aren't sure if the assignment will be on the curriculum for next year.

The school system has not identified the student who wrote the letter.

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