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Race to the Bottom

Posted on: March 1st, 2012 by Larry

There is a new Brown v. Board of Education case. And like the famous one in Topeka in 1954, this new one in Chicago has race at its core.

In this case Brown is Lincoln Brown, a teacher at the Murray Language Academy on Chicago’s southwest side who’s suing the school district for wrongful suspension. Brown took advantage of what he thought was a teachable moment after intercepting a student note that discussed some rap lyrics, including the n-word. He opened a class discussion of that word and how hurtful it can be.

The principal happened to drop in at that time, stayed for a few minutes and left. Two weeks went by before Brown was accused of using verbally abusive language in class. He was found guilty and suspended. Read more here.

We’re always hearing about the need for a national conversation about race. But try to have a small discussion at your own peril.

  • Who do you think is right, the teacher or the principal?
  • Is it ever okay for a white person to use the n-word? Is the n-word appropriate speech in the black community?
  • Do you agree with Lincoln Brown that it’s an educator’s role to talk about racial issues if that’s what the students want? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever used the n-word or some other slur, publicly or in private conversation?   How do you feel about that?