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April 15, 2017


Anti-racism work is so hard, and so important. And the pain is so huge sometimes, and starts long before your students come to your institution, and comes from other directions while they're also students. So complicated.

What did the students want to have happen to punish the original poster to not "let her get away with it"?

I think it IS promising that at least some of her friends questioned her original post and she recognized the problem quickly.

Bardiac, some of the students want her to be suspended or even expelled. At the big student/faculty meeting on Thursday, when there was a lot of yelling, several students of color said that if they ever did anything along these lines, they would be expelled immediately. That's actually not true -- FGS is all for second chances and rarely expels anyone -- but clearly it FELT true for the students.

I'm seriously worried that this white kid -- who blew it big time but owned up to it and apologized in front of the whole school -- is getting scapegoated, and not only by the students. A couple of teachers said things at that public meeting that I was horrified by. ALL of these kids are in our care, and we don't get to all jump on the kid who screwed up so that we can prove our own anti-racism cred. I actually reached out to the kid by email and told her that I had been impressed with the thoughtfulness of her public presentation and that owning up to and learning from mistakes is how we grow as humans. I taught her last year, and I know that she is a thoughtful kid who I'm sure is horrified by what she did and by how she hurt people. But we don't get to sacrifice her so that we can make peace with the students of color. That's the easy way out, but it doesn't actually solve the underlying problems we clearly have.

Thanks for your response, What Now?

It seems like the student who originated that post shouldn't be blamed for all of the hurt others have felt, even though the post probably contributed a bit more. And high school is a relatively safe place to be angry, in a way. (Unlike, say, being angry when a cop stops you for a broken tail light.)

I wish you all well working this out. I hope you'll write more about what you folks are doing to create a better space for your community.

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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