Trends come and go, but unfortunately, the trend of racism in the classroom appears to be gaining traction and shows little signs of abating in the near future. Recently, a number of white educators have received much condemnation over their use of the N-word to and in front of their students. However, the punishment is typically a slap on the wrist or a suspension of some sort.
At Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida, Robert Cecil, who teaches English to ninth and tenth graders, was recently captured on camera debating the proper use of the N-word to his students. “If you’re black, and you say ‘n***a’, but you don’t say ‘n***er, ‘cause that’s like …,” he said in the 12-second clip, according to WUFT.
*This video contains offensive language.*
A Black student responded, “We can say it,” and following a bit of an uproar from the students, the teacher replied, “It’s a free country, freedom of speech, right?”
While it is unclear if Cecil is still in the classroom, he issued what was considered to be an apology, while deflecting on the regular use of the word, saying it was a “teachable moment.” “First of all, I would like to apologize for all the viewers that have been harmed or offended by this video,” he began.
He continued, “The irony, however, is inescapable. I detest the N-word more than any other word in the English language. It represents the greatest sin of our country when we enslaved other human beings. This word and its variants are said casually among subsections of our population, and in trying to demonstrate how it has negative shock appeal, I used it in a teachable moment in class. I used the N-word and made a short parody of who believes that this hate language is protected by our First Amendment.”
The teacher when on to say the video was “was edited so that my disapproval of the word and its attendant racist connotations were edited out.” He further exercised his white privilege, saying that this was an “abrogation” of his rights.
Ironically, or maybe not, this incident occurred on Feb. 12, just one day after a University of Oklahoma professor likened the phrase “OK Boomer” to the N-word.
Peter Gade, a professor in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, allegedly used the racial slur while teaching his students about changes that have occurred in technology and adhering to the traditional route of reported journalism, according to the university’s student newspaper the OU Daily.
Gade then called on a student in the class, who said that journalists have to keep up with younger generations as they continually change. The professor said the student’s comment was basically the same thing as saying “OK, boomer” to him, the paper reported.
After the class briefly laughed, Gade continued, “Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n*****.”
Following the incident, a group of students from the class met with three deans in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The professor later issued an apology. “I was wrong. I am sorry,” he wrote in an email, according to NBC News. “I realize the word is hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present. Use of this word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings.”
The Oklahoman reported days later that Gade will not teach his class for the rest of the semester and will take one-on-one “diversity, equity and inclusion” sessions at the university.
Meanwhile, at a Garrard County, Kentucky middle school, a teacher corrected a student on the “proper” use of the N-word while the child was engaging in an argument with another student. According to Fox 8, Patrick Alcorn is the parent of the child who was called the N-word.
“There was some form of an altercation that was verbal,” said Alcorn. “One child called my child the N-word and, from my understanding, the teacher heard it and then she proceeded to correct the child who said it, and said that you’re saying it incorrectly, this is how you say it.”
A letter of reprimand was put on the teacher’s permanent file after an investigation took place.
The school’s Interim Superintendent Ronald “Sonny” Fentress said that after speaking with a school attorney, much cannot be done to punish a tenured teacher with 21 years of experience. The teacher apologized, saying she repeated the word without thinking first, the report says.
“I’m not satisfied with a written apology from the language in the letter because the language states that she used the N-word inappropriately,” Alcorn said. “So, my question is, when is it ever appropriate to use the N-word?”
The parent wants the teacher to either, speak with him and other to “understand how her words affect those around her,” or he wants for a portion of her salary to be “donated to the United Negro College Fund.”
Perhaps, a donation to the United Negro College Fund after using the N-word in the classroom isn’t such a bad idea.