Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Milwaukee Braid Incident: Where is that White Teacher Who Cut the Braid?

Perhaps my curiosity's been intensified by the story about the white Los Angeles school teachers who have been suspended without pay for mocking Black History Month, but over the last few days, little Lamya Camon has been on my mind. She's the first-grader we all worked ourselves into fits over last year when we learned her white teacher had cut off her braid in front of the class and the other children laughed.

I wrote about it at last year. The last we heard about this case was that the police fined the teacher $175 and the Milwaukee school system, which left the teacher in the class room but moved little Lamya to a different class, claimed it was investigating. The only defense presented for the teacher is that she was frustrated.

Was she frustrated or racist? Or was she a frustrated racist? Or was she just a teacher who needs a long vacation and Lamya, the child that stepped on her last nerve, happened to be black? Whatever that teacher was/is, I still don't think she should be teaching anybody's child.

Undoubtedly coming across the L.A. Times story on those teachers and then across Marty Nemko's post of an essay by Chris Johnson, a teacher giving his hostile thoughts on "what it's like to teach black students" is causing me to draw the conclusion that somebody needs to lose a job. It pains me to say that because coming from a family of teachers I'm sympathetic to their struggles. However, some people really don't deserve to influence young minds. It's especially true that white racists should have no right to influence young black minds.

But how do you determine who lets her racism steer her teaching methods and attitudes? It's not always a word or deed, but a countenance, and we can't go around judging who or who is not racist on a vibe alone. We must go by actions and rhetoric because as some readers know, I think everybody has some racial biases. We can't fire everybody.

Yes, it's a sticky-icky problem, one that racists frequently try to avoid discussing by throwing racism under freedom of speech.

Right now I'm thinking of the African-Americans who have opposed school integration for the very reason implied in the mentioned incidents, the notion that white racists should not be allowed to teach black children. I'm thinking ... and thinking ... and thinking. And as I think, I consider how incidents like the one in Milwaukee go hot in the news when they happen but go cold as the weeks go on. Nobody's followed up to see that justice was served, not even me.

For the record, I'm not a racist. I'm a Godist. I think only God with capital "G" can claim superiority. We mortals, however, need to spend more time thinking about the world beyond our own neighborhoods. ~~ Nordette Adams


RiPPa said...

You know I wondered about that situation in Milwaukee lately. The irony of this post is that I had a discussion with Max Reddick on the phone last night about education. And more to the point: his frustration with piss poor teachers. It was interesting especially himself being an educator.

I didn't follow the recent story of an entire school of teachers being fired in Rhode Island. But I caught a bit of it today on CNN and I wondered about the racial demographical breakdown.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

I didn't hear that news about RI. I'm going to look that up.

How much do you want to bet that Milwaukee teacher is still working?

Thank you for your visit.

Anonymous said...

I followed your link to the white teachers post on teaching black children. All I can say is OMG! How horrible that people with this attitude are still being allowed to teach!
But I will tell you that as a child I saw this same type of behavior in my teachers,so astoundingly enough, seems nothing has changed much.....