Pulling the "Race" Card
So... Last week was a whole mess. Like when I say it was a mess, I mean that. Let me give you some background so that you understand where I'm about to go with this. For the last quarter (9 weeks) we have been working toward writing research based arguments.
Week 1- During this week we reviewed MLA format and documentation style. During this time they were able to practice using this form of documentation and they were given a flip-book as a reference because they would be using this format for the rest of the quarter.
Week 2-After practicing with MLA format, the kids would use what they learned to write a critical analysis.
Week 3- Students were given their anchor text, writing prompt, TDQs, and supplemental texts. This was the week that they were given the meat of the lesson.
Week 4- They were supposed to have finished reading the anchor text and answering comprehension questions.
Week 5- This is when their first draft to the prompt was due. I modeled the drafting process and provided exemplar writing to help them with the format.
Weeks 6 and d 7- After reading the drafts, it was apparent that students were still struggling with understanding the text, so we watched the documentary of the text. The most powerful thing about this is that it was narrated by the author of the text.
Week 8- After all of the previously mentioned materials being done, on top of other supplemental assignments such as graphic organizers and prompt analyses, they should have been ready to construct their final drafts of their responses to the prompt.
Week 9- Essays were due.
With that being said, I paced and broke things down and reviewed and provided models, etc., etc., etc. Tell me why the due date came and these children were still scrambling to get their work in. Not only that, why were they skipping classes to get it done? I was upset and disappointed because they literally had more than enough time to get the work done. And had they used all of the materials I had given them, they would have had more than enough information to complete the task. But NO! NOOOOO!!! What do these kids do? They wait until the last minute and they PLAGIARIZE! I could have beaten them ALL!
The worst part of all of this is the fact that several teachers went to the principal to snitch on me because the kids were skipping their class to do my work. They acted like I encouraged it. Oh Okay.
If you didn't know by now, I'm a black woman. If you didn't know, about 97% of the students I teach are black, 2% are Hispanic, and 1% is white. So needless to say, my kids kind of relate to me on a different level because I'm black like their mothers. So I can get them to do things that non-white teachers cannot. I say that to say this, the teachers that complained on me to the principal were white males. I guess they couldn’t understand how I was able to get the kids to rush to do my work and they couldn’t.
I never realized how much race played a part in students relating to teachers and respecting teachers until the last couple of school years. I never really thought it mattered because I just wanted to get my work done so the teachers wouldn’t bother me. But now I understand and see how it can be a factor.
Here are some of the things I hear white teachers say and see them do in my building that should really stop:
1. Stop saying, "These kids."- I get so sick of white teachers saying what "these kids" can and can't do. I cringe hearing that phrase because of the connotation that it now has. These kids = Black kids. And I'm sick of hearing it.
2. Stop referencing the "N" word.- Stop wondering why they use the N word. Just know that you can't! The word is definitely loaded and has terrible history. But the kids have taken ownership of it. It is not for you to understand. The only thing you need to know is that you can't use it. Not only that, stop making slick racial references that you think the kids don't catch on to. They are privy to racial innuendo and know that you are speaking negatively about them. If you can't get over yourself, you shouldn't teach in a school that has a high population of these "undesirable" kids. I'm sick of students coming to me with reports of these slick racist comments. And if they are coming to me, I know they are coming to others.
3. Stop looking down your nose at the kids.- This one pisses me off to the highest level of pissidity. I know that's not a word but at this point I don't care because I"m making a point. These children can feel when you are acting as though you are better than them. They can hear it in your tone, see it in your actions. Not only that,it bothers me when these same people who act like this with the kids then turn around and act that way with the black staff members. I think the reason I was complained on was because this teacher wanted me to do something that I was unwilling to do- he wanted me to penalize my students in MY class and on MY assignment for misbehaving in his class. Where they do that at? And when I said that I wouldn't, when I advised him on how to handle the situation, he then went and made a complaint as though that would sway me.
Let me tell you what I will not tolerate- I won't tolerate a person telling me what to do in my class when he can't even control his own. I won't tolerate a person who has no rapport with the students telling me to penalize them in my room for what they did in his. I'll just not have it. And if you can't accept that, tough.
It was at this point that I realized how much race mattered. There are still white educators who have racist agendas. They feel that they are the only ones who can save these "poor black kids." You can't save them and look down your nose at them. You can't save them and disparage them. YOU CAN'T SAVE THEM WITH YOUR NEGATIVITY! It just blows my mind that this is allowed.
How does your school handle issues of race and complaints that are brought up by students that some educators are making racist remarks? How can we ensure that educators that don't look like our students are sensitive or privy to the words they say and the connotations thereof? I just need to know.
For now, though, I will recommend that these educators read For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood by Christopher Emdin. Hopefully it will open your eyes to the impact you have on your students.
Let me know what you think.