Students at a Minnesota high school staged a walkout late last week to protest a white teacher’s use of the N-word earlier in the month.
On May 24, students associated with the Highland Park Senior High School’s Black Student Union filed into the school’s courtyard carrying protest pickets, including one with Joyner Lucas song lyrics which “explain” how the term is now owned by black people.
The catalyst for the protest was middle school teacher Wendi Brilowski (Highland Park Middle School sits adjacent to the high school) who said the word in a May 9 exchange with an administrator, and was captured on a student’s cell phone.
According to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, it appears Brilowski was repeating what a (black) student had said, based on the recording’s snippets. Despite this explanation in the vid, a black student objects.
“The context is not completely clear,” the article says. “What is clear is that a White teacher was captured on camera dropping the N-word with a hard ‘er.’”
And by now we know that NO context makes utterance of the word by a Caucasian acceptable.
"It hurts me. I believe as a society that we should understand language boundaries…"
Students at Highland Park Senior High School staged a walkout last week to protest the use of the N-word by a White teacher. Story by Solomon Gustavo.https://t.co/hGWzXgsjeX
— MN Spokesman-Recorder (@MNSpokesman) May 29, 2019
And it wasn’t just one teacher who used the derogatory term. After the initial boom came an aftershock — BSU students say a White high school teacher used the full N-word while describing the incident to a class.
In either instance, what matters most to the students is that Brilowski and the high school teacher accused of also saying the word are both White.
[BSU member Saleh] Jacoway, 16, said the N-bomb forced her to wonder what her educators really feel about her, which she said made her incredibly uncomfortable. “We started to second-guess our teachers.”
The hallways were also split following the incidents, said Jacoway. Those taking offense, she noted, were mainly Blacks and a few Whites. Others, primarily Latinx, White and Biracial students, voiced indifference, Jacoway said, referencing rampant use of the N-word in rap music as justification.
According to Amode, some non-BSU Black students came to the group hoping it would take action. “I didn’t know what to do,” said the senior. A member suggested a student walkout in the first meeting on the matter. The group, cognizant of the school year winding down, quickly rallied around the idea.
The “mission” of the walkout, participants said, is to “make clear” that use of the N-word by non-blacks is “deeply rooted in pain.”
The BSU’s Jacoway said “It hurts me. I believe as a society that we should understand language boundaries as far as what can or should not be said to different groups.”
IMAGE: Oxalis37 / Flickr.com