I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: A lot of white teachers have no business whatsoever teaching Black students.
A Black mother in San Marcos, Texas, has filed a complaint with the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District over an incident involving her daughter and a teacher who allegedly told her white students that it’s OK for them to say the n-word as long as Black people continue to say it.
KXAN reports that on Monday, Tasha Fennell addressed the board regarding an incident her daughter, Azariah Fennell, said she experienced at Doris Miller Jr. High School.
According to Fennell, Azariah is the only Black student in the class in question and one of the only Black students in the school. Here’s what she said happened as reported by KXAN:
A male student interrupts the class by opening the door and says, “What’s up my n—a?’” A male student in the classroom responds with, “Hey what’s up.” Azariah is sitting in the back talking to H.H., a female student. A male student says, “Dude, you can’t say that word,” while the class was still riled up from the classroom interruption.
[The teacher] states: “If Black people can say it then white people can say it, too,” Fennell said.
Fennell has also submitted two grievances to San Marcos CISD.
Do y’all remember the Twisted Tea incident in which a very confused and misguided white man got his whole clock cleaned after thinking “nigga” was a thing he was allowed to say as long as he wasn’t using the hard R? Well, teachers like this are dooming their white students to that same fate, which I would be here for if it weren’t for the fact that Black students become casualties of the antics that lead to that particular lesson being learned.
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Here’s what I had to say about Black people’s use of the n-word when I reported on the Twisted Tea-chable moment:
First of all, I’ve seen enough Martin Scorsese movies to know that Italians, Irish folk and plenty of other ethnic groups use their own slurs among each other fairly commonly while expecting outsiders to refrain from using them. But like many things in America, shit doesn’t get controversial until Black people do it.
“Nigga”—when coming out of a Black person’s mouth—carries various connotations that range from the endearing “my nigga” to the significantly less endearing “bitch-ass nigga.” However we use it, there’s no implied racism. The point is, there’s cultural context at play here that most white people wouldn’t understand and they would do well to simply respect the history involved and keep the word out of their mouths.
Beyond all that, no white educator (or white person at all for that matter) has any business disregarding the feelings of millions of Black people across the country and taking it upon themselves to declare the n-word OK to use based on the fact that some Black people (like me) use the word at their leisure. At the very least, this teacher needed to consider how the situation made the only Black student in the room feel.
Fennell appears to agree.
“I just don’t feel like it was her place to make the decision to say that in front of impressionable kids,” Fennell told KXAN. “My biggest concern is that my daughter has a voice. Azariah said what she said and this is how she felt.”
Through tears, Azariah spoke for herself on how the incident affected her.
“How it makes me feel, I don’t want someone else to go through the feeling that I had to go through,” she said.
The district said that it is investigating the incident—which reportedly happened in January—and offered Azariah and her mother an apology.
According to KXAN, the district’s statement read in part: “It will be communicated to Azariah that the Miller community understands the importance of equity and the goal is to be more sensitive to the topic and utilize the experience as a teachable moment in the future. Azariah and her friends were discussing the Black Lives Matter movement when the incident occurred. The timing of the discussion may not have been appropriate but the nature of the conversation is relevant to Azariah’s cultural background and could be acknowledged. Principal Jessie Gipprich Martin will pull Azariah during the school day and speak to her about the incident and how it made her feel.”
San Marcos CISD said the superintendent has asked both Fennell and Azariah to be on a diversity and leadership council that meets once a month to discuss concerns about inequality—because, as usual, it’s up to Black people to educate the white world on how racism works.