A substitute teacher is being disallowed from teaching in an Illinois school after calling two students the n-word. Mea Thompson and Zaria Daniel were the two eighth graders working a project in social studies class with two other students. This is when they were referred to as African-American by the teacher. “All four of us that were sitting there got offended because none of us are from Africa.” Thompson is Jamaican. So they asked the teacher not to refer to them with that word. However the teacher continued to call them that and then shockingly said, “Well back then you guys would be considered the niggers.” The students were driven to tears from these words.
The teacher continued to call the students by the word, even going as far as referring to them as slaves. One student left the room crying. The teacher confirmed that the events had actually taken place in an interview with the school district and will not be asked to teach at the school again. Thompson’s mother, Shayna, planned to go to the Carol Stream Police Department on Tuesday to file a report, and to find out if the teacher could be charged with a hate crime. She was very emotional and said “It’s a new world, and the people of the past that still hang onto hatred and bigotry don’t belong in this world anymore.”
In another case, a North Carolina teacher is under investigation for racist remarks that she made to one of her students at lunch. Cynthia Ramsey, who teaches at Camden country high school, discussed one of the items at the top of her bucket list with one of her students at lunch. She stated that if she only had 10 days to live she would kill all black people. Ramsey was suspended without pay but she was back on the job a couple of days later. The superintendent said the district would thoroughly investigate the incident, but all findings would be confidential until the case was resolved. The county sheriff turned the evidence over to the district attorney for further investigation to decide whether Ramsey will face criminal charges. The mother of the student that Ramsey had the conversation with said she was disgusted and could not believe Ramsey was able to return to the classroom so soon.
“High School Teacher Back In Classroom Despite Reportedly Saying She ‘Would KilI All Black People’,”Ian Millhister, “d Kill All Black People’,” ThinkProgress, November 3, 2014.
Lewis, David. “Illinois Teacher Calls Jamaican Students ‘n*gger’ after They Object to ‘African-American’.” Raw Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/illinois-teacher-calls-jamaican-students-ngger-after-they-object-to-african-american/
Student Researchers: Sameen Majumder, Indian River State College; Kenya Jacobs, Indian River State College
Facility Researcher Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
The ethical problem raised by these stories is that of racism, and how it is still present today. There is no need to read between the lines here as the offenders are quite blunt in their actions so the main ethical issue is quite obvious. Racism has been a problem throughout the history of mankind. Here in the United States African Americans have endured discrimination for centuries. Whether it was slavery, which was eventually abolished, or segregation, which only went away after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it has been an issue which is still present today. Unfortunately numerous negative stereotypes exist about African Americans. They are always criminals, they are uneducated, and they are just dangerous and troublesome people. Stories like the recent one of an Illinois school teacher who called two students the n-word are simply examples of the prejudice that still exists in this country.
As students we look up to our teachers for guidance. We trust in them to provide us with accurate information and knowledge that will help us succeed in our academic careers. How can students trust Ramsey when she makes comments such as “I would kill all black people if I had ten days to live.” Ramsey speaks as though African Americans are objects or things having no rights. No doubt she herself would not want to be so treated. This is indeed the emblematic feature of prejudice. It typically is based on a double standard.
The specific racial action that takes place in the Illinois story is the use of the infamous and repulsive n-word. Some would make the argument that too much is made of the word and that it is simply just that, only a word. However those who make these claims do not understand the hatred and negative history that exists behind it. It is a word that was used to indicate that African-Americans were an inferior race. What is particularly abhorrent is when the teacher calls the students slaves. This is shocking and completely wicked. We all know the history of slavery and how cruel a practice it was.
It is disturbing that our society still includes so many people who harbor such discriminatory tendencies. For example in a California study the ACLU found that Blacks are 3 times more likely to be stopped than Whites by the police. Especially after how much we as a nation have evolved over time. African Americans have been the major victims of racism throughout our nation’s history but today there are new groups of people who are guilty of discrimination. Racism is still very much present today. Racist people will exist no matter what, but it should be our duty to speak out against racism and give our best effort to fight it.
Ethical Perspectives, which are not extreme, generally put emphasis on good motives and the importance of maximizing happiness. Because of this they reject negative attitudes like racism, which is the issue here. Also the teacher who used this vile word knew that this word goes back to a time when African-Americans were treated in an inhumane way, and yet still used it. This shows that the teacher’s intentions were completely malicious. There was obviously no regard for the children’s feelings.
One thing that is important to consider is that the individuals were merely children as they were only eighth graders. Because they are simply children they are more innocent and it just makes the situation more detestable. It is reported that the students were brought to tears after being called the n-word so they were caused a great deal of emotional harm. We all know that this is a racist and repulsive word so the teacher had to know this but went on to use the word repeatedly.. The teacher’s intentions were clearly malicious.
Originally the students were offended when the teacher referred to them as African Americans. Although this term in itself may not be malicious it is not a term that can be used universally for blacks. A black person could be Caribbean or Haitian or such as how in this story one of the girls was from Jamaica. So in these situations calling them African-American is not right as the individual might get offended. This is an ethical issue of being disrespectful and ignorant of people’s backgrounds.
In conclusion, both stories bring attention to the ethical issue of racism. It reminds us that racism is still a problem in our world today. When looking at it from an ethical perspective racism is definitely an immoral action. This story is shocking because of how startlingly insensitive and directly offensive these teachers are.