Someone Called Me a ______ at School Today

This is a question directed towards anyone who is a parent or educator. Regardless of your race, I would like for you to take a moment to consider what you would do in the following two situations. After it just tells me what you would say or do as a parent. I ask you not to give a response that you feel are socially acceptable, but for those who have experienced this as a parent or even a child, be honest in your response is all I ask. I’m not judging you.

  • Scenario 1: What do you do when your child tells you that someone at their school, whether it is a student, teacher or administrator called them or one of their friends a racially insensitive name?
  • Scenario 2: Your child called someone, whether it is another student, teacher or administrator a racially insensitive name. They have found themselves in a world of trouble and criticism. They say that you do the same thing, so why am I in trouble. How do you respond to your child’s actions? How do you do now to correct the situation?

I know not everyone may not be able to personally recall an experience like the ones in the scenarios above, but I still want to hear from you as well. So don’t be afraid to speak freely, just be respectful in commenting.

References & Inspirations
Deborah A. Byrnes “Teacher They Called Me A…!: Confronting Prejudice and Discrimination in the Classroom
Rupert Brown “Prejudice: It’s Social Psychology

2 thoughts on “Someone Called Me a ______ at School Today

  1. Scenario 1: I don’t have a kid, so I really have no idea what I would say in the context of talking to kids.
    I suppose I would tell them that the fact is, some people are just cruel. Kids can be the most cruel, but I think it hurts more coming from an adult…someone in a position of power and respect.
    Then I would probably tell them to just consider the source and shine it on.

    But that’s more easily said than done.

    Scenario 2: I would tell them, as best I could, that cruelty, of any kind, will not be tolerated in this family. Of course there would be a long diatribe as to why it’s cruel to mentally and emotionally torment another.
    The belt may follow depending on the amount of remorse.

    Those are two tough questions, man.
    Maybe I’d just read them some Star Bellied Sneetches. It worked for me.

    Exposing them to personal conflict could help too. Though I fully understand the value of MLK when it comes to bridging racial divides, in all honesty, Jimi Hendrix did more for race relations where and when I went to school. We didn’t know much about King in ’74 and as kids we didn’t care.
    In St. Petersburg, FL…. early 70s, I remember the first day of busing. I was in third grade. I had never seen a black person before at that time other than on TV.
    Those days were hard. In many cases we made friends quick, but there were lots and lots of fights.
    This went on consistently all the way to high school in the late seventies. But it had to be done.
    We had to go through the adjustments to make it easier on the following generations. I still think busing was the best exercise in foresight I’ve ever seen.

    The conflict for the white, Southern teen of the early seventies was our deep, abiding love for Jimi and his music. It touched us deeply in a psychedelic kinda way.
    All of a sudden, we began talking amongst ourselves and saying “how can we dislike blacks? Jimi is black!” Internal conflict of the Rock n Roll kind broke down the walls society built in front of us.
    Jimi was the turning point. To me, his legacy is every bit that of MLK. And I doubt Jimi ever knew it.

    Conflict is good. 🙂

    1. You’ve got lucky and got a peak at this one before I intended on publishing it. Just a few days early.

      I was often the only Black kid or one of few until 4th, 5th & 6th grade. I remember being called some ‘interesting’ names as a child by my principle (Mr. Saddler) and a 3rd grade teacher (Mrs. Compton). I still remember their names tells you the negative affects they had on me. But it was 1977 and I was fortunate enough to live close enough to a wealth neighborhood, although we were far from halfway wealthy. So I was “One of the Black Kids”, but that honestly I never had an issue with race. Just everyone around me seem to have an issue with it.

      I think my earliest encounter being called ‘nigger’ in my case was in Kindergarten. We had a parent/child field day where parents would come and basically cheer us on as we played different activities. After everything was done we got to run around and play. I ask one of my classmates (Cindy) does she want to play. Before she could answer her father told me that his daughter doesn’t play with niggers and told me to leave her alone. Another parent who happen to be Black overheard this and came to my rescue. I didn’t hear what she had to say, but I knew she was mad. I went and found another kid to play with me. But my introduction to racism began in Kindergarten and continued until the 4th grade while I was at that school (Granberry). From the principle telling me I would be better working with my hands instead of my mind to my 3rd grade teacher telling me that I was going to be a garbage boy (the only black kid in the class, right). She was also the person to introduce me to politics by having a mock election where we couldn’t vote for any Democrats, just Republicans. When I asked her why she said something about Democrats being bad and for me to vote Republican. I voted for Carter, anyway 😀

      Then from 7th to 12th grade I was in one of the most culturally diverse schools in TN. During HS (mid-to late 80’s) we had around 50 different nationalities represented at our school. This may explain some things about my thinking today, but I have always been exposed to people of different races, religions and economic backgrounds all my life that I’m very open to accepting others.

      As a parent I haven’t had the opportunity for him to be confronted with overt racism, but I also make a very conscious effort to make sure he absolutely understands who he is and to be happy with it and to be happy with others who don’t look like him. I’m just waiting for the opportunity that someone says something racist at school. I’m sure that will make news if they want to raise an issue about it. I’m all over it.

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