A New Orleans school has come under fire after a series of videos surfaced showing a white teacher repeatedly using the “n-word” in front of his students.
According to NOLA.com, a permanent substitute at Ben Franklin High School told his class that it was OK for him to use the racial epitaph. He first said that the N-word was “commoditized” and that it had been “used by everyone” so often that it no longer held its original meaning. Before using the racial epitaph he contradicting himself saying, “Nobody uses that word. You cannot go through life and act like a word can affect you.”
Soon after a Black student jumped in: “That’s racist as sh*t. Why can you not understand that it’s racist for a white man to say ‘n****r’ to a black man? It’s f**king racist.”
After class, students went to the principal’s office to stage a sit-in, which turned into an assembly that lasted for an hour.
One student chimed in during the meeting, “When you’re Black, it changes the whole way people perceive you and people look at you,” he said.
“Realize that it’s not just a word when you say stuff like that. Realize all the charges and all the connotations it has in it,” he said, as the other students applauded.
“And just make responsible choices. If you’re a teacher and you don’t want to get fired, maybe you don’t want to say this.”
Principal Patrick Widhalm said that the assembly allowed for a “a very good dialogue about the difficulties and the issues that still exist around race, around identity, around the things that aren’t resolved.”
He added: “The school has a strong, diverse population but like society today, we’re still coming to grips with how we do that in a way that is … empowering for everyone. These are students who want to be part of a better school, a better society.”
Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr., the Orleans Parish School Board superintendent, issued a statement saying he condemns “the use of language of a derogatory or inflammatory nature.”
“As educators we must strive to instill respect and sensitivity to others in our students and hold all adults and students to this standard,” he added.
The school also confirmed that the teacher will not be teaching pending a full investigation.