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.
"The Makers Of Men"
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