While everyone in our society is fighting racism in every type and form, teachers are those who we rely the most hoping that they will teach our children about real values in life and racism surely takes major part of that process.
Unfortunately, that was not the case with a White fourth-grade teacher who used the N-word while reading a poem in class in a multi-racial school, an incident that happened last month and both parents and students were devastated of what the teacher did. Once the school officials learned about the incident, she was suspended.
According to LA Times, the teacher involved in the incident is A. Glancy, a fourth-grade teacher in the High Tech Elementary School in California, and she was placed on administrative leave once the school officials learned about the incident when she used the N-word while reciting an iconic Harlem Renaissance poem about Black author Countee Cullen’s experience with racism as a child.
The teacher read aloud the racial slur while she was reading the renowned poem ‘Incident,’ and her behavior resulted with two students to immediately leave in total disbelief what their teacher read out loud while in class. Once the class ended, all the other students headed to the school’s dean, explained what had happened before and complained about their teacher’s behavior.
‘I can’t believe you did that!,’ one of the students said to the teacher while leaving class seconds after the incident. ‘Ms. Glancy, you don’t understand how hard it is to hear that word,’ one student told Glancy after class, before complaining to the dean.
Glancy, who is white, teaches in multi-racial school and she is in her first year teaching at that particular school. Shortly after the incident, Glancy apologized to the students and their parents about what she did explaining that she decided against censoring the poem ‘to demonstrate that the poet’s words can evoke emotion — in this case, anger and sadness.’
“The lesson was intended to demonstrate that the poet’s words can evoke emotion — in this case, anger and sadness. Unfortunately, it triggered some very big emotions for the students that I did not anticipate,” Glancy wrote in an email to parents according to multiple reports.
Countee Cullen’s ‘Incident,’ published in 1925, describes a narrator visiting Baltimore at eight years old to see a ‘Balitmorean’ boy sticking out his tongue and calling the narrator the N-word, Daily Mail reported. The narrator writes about the impact the interaction had and how, despite spending seven months in the city, that’s the memory that stood out the most.
According to the High Tech High spokesperson A. Millican, the teacher was immediately placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation. The spokesperson added that she will remain suspended, while the school is committed to making sure that the school is a safe space for all students.
Experts believe that this incident is just one among the many and this is perfect example why it’s important for teachers to receive training in how to talk about race, ethnicity and cultural identity, especially in school.