Thursday, February 23, 2012

We can't solve these issues if we can't discuss them!

Last October Lincoln Brown, a white social studies teacher, was suspended from his job for
"using verbally abusive language to or in front of students." Brown teaches in a Chicago school classroom full of African American students. His suspension came two weeks after he was observed using the "N" word in a his classroom. The incidents deemed a "teachable moment" by Brown was seen in different light by his principal.

Brown took a note being passed from one student to another and discovered the "N" word written within a rap lyric. He decided to discuss the negative impact that comes from using the "N" word and how the word is used in movies, music and books. In an attempt to curb the use of the word, he talked to his students about how using the word only fans the problem into a raging fire. He asked his students how they would feel if he was to use the word. He used the whole word in class and he made sure that he didn't address it to or at anyone.

Brown's principal, who is African American, was in his class when he used the word. At the time there seemed to be no issue, it wasn't until two weeks later that any concern was brought to Brown's attention at which point he was told of his suspension. Lincoln Brown is now suing the Principal, the Chicago Public Schools CEO and the Chicago Board of Education for violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights. Brown was quoted saying “it’s so sad - if we can’t discuss these issues, we'll never be able to resolve them."

I think that the use of the "N" word is cruel, negligent and should not be used in any context. I believe that Brown's intentions were based out of his desire to change things for the better. Should he have actually used the word in his class, probably not, but I can understand his reasons for doing so.

Race is such a controversial issue. It is something that may get overlooked and disregarded by educators because they are afraid of the consequences. In my own classroom I would like to think that I could address issues and concerns that my students are having.

To read the full article --->

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