Saturday, April 7, 2012

Assignment: The Personal Side of Bias, Prejudice, and Oppression

Recently, I read a story online about a black high school student who was asked by his teacher to read a poem, “Blacker.” He was reading a poem and was stopped by his teacher telling him that he wasn’t reading it black enough. When he refused, the teacher demonstrated how she wanted it done. According to the student, “She sounded like a maid in the 1960s,” Shumate said. “She read the poem like a slave, basically.” He complained after she singled him out again while explaining to the students why black people like grape soda and rap music. Click here to read the whole story. The equity was diminished because as the only black student, this boy was singled out. This teacher was reinforcing stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes.
I was glad that the boy stood up for himself by refusing to read it differently. He did not want to be apart of the negative stereotypes that she was reinforcing. I am always half surprised and half not when I read stories like these. I’m surprised that people have such bad attitudes when they are supposed to want what’s best for their students. I’m also not surprised at the ignorance in the world. In today’s world these remarks and incidents shouldn’t happen as much as they do. I feel bad for students when they are singled out for whatever reason. I can relate to the feelings of being embarrassed and ashamed for being different.

This student is already on the road to promoting equity. He is resisting negative stereotypes and is speaking out on the matter. To have greater equity, the teacher would have to look deeper into her hidden and unhidden biases and change her attitude. The school district can use this as an opportunity to educate others in the district and around the country in terms of what is best practice. Finally, to achieve the greatest equity, society as a whole would have to change their attitudes, but I think that starts one individual at a time. Equity does not happen over night. It is a process and a goal that can only be achieved if we all work together.


  1. What an interesting story!!!
    It is so weird to think that people think that the way a person speaks can be related solely to their race. However, when teaching the students often talked about how they talked outside of school and the difference from their "school speak". This is also true and can be true of anyone despite race. Our setting impacts how we speak also. Great post.

  2. Great post! I found this very interesting. You would think in this day and age that an educator would know better than to single out a student in this way. I also am surprised in many ways but also feel I should not be when I read articles such as this. I am really glad this young man stood up for himself. It is such an important element to growing up. One of the lessons I am trying to teach the young men who are in my foster care is that they have a voice and should use it (appropriately of course). Little by little I am helping them use their voices in order to be heard. Just because they are involved in the system does not mean they are fair game to what I consider “the powers that be”.

    Thank you for the link so I could read the whole story. I really appreciate it.

  3. Great post! You mention the school taking this opportunity to educate and teach. I was unable to read the article due to being prompted to register to read it, but I am wondering what the school did decide to do in this incident. Kudos to teh young man who spoke out about this and brought awareness to the problem. Sadly these things happen daily in our schools, and I think some educators are unaware of just how inappropriate it is!

  4. Great post..shame on that teacher and I am proud of the young man who sttod up for his personal dignity. This was very hurtful to read this think children are being subjected to this type of treatment in an educational experience.


Thank you for your comments! I read them all and I appreciate each one. I often reply to comments so feel free to check back for a response.

Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates