After a sixth-grade girl used the “n-word” in a note, Lincoln Brown discussed racial slurs with his predominantly black class at a Chicago school. A writing and social studies teacher, he thought it was a “teachable moment.”
Principal Gregory Mason, who’s black, walked in as the white teacher was using the “n-word.” He said nothing at the time. But two weeks later, Mason suspended Brown for five days on charges of “using verbally abusive language to or in front of students” and “cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal conduct or communication to a student, that causes psychological or physical harm.”
Last week, Brown filed a federal lawsuit, alleging his free-speech and due process rights were violated.
Brown says he told students about the use of the racial slur in Huckleberry Finn to show “how upsetting such language can be.” He also cited “Spike Lee’s comments about rap music and racial profiling in movies.” Students were engaged in the discussion and later told Brown how much they enjoyed it, he said.
“It’s so sad — if we can’t discuss these issues, we’ll never be able to resolve them,” Brown said Thursday.
I guess we never will.
The son of liberal parents who named him after Abraham Lincoln, Brown, 48, grew up in integrated Hyde Park, where Murray Language Academy is located. He attended local schools, where he was in the white minority. He’s taught in black neighborhood schools for 21 years. Many parents are supporting him, especially the ones with kids in his after-school Shakespeare program, he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ironically, his lawsuit is titled Brown vs. the Board of Education.
As a former headline writer, I feel for the ESPN headline writer fired for using “chink in the armor” to describe Jeremy Lin’s turnovers. The c-word may not even resonate as a slur to the younger generation. And you’d be amazed at the double entendres that headline writers can miss.
An ESPN sportscaster (with an Asian wife!) also used c-word in armor in reference to Lin. He was suspended.