Tuesday, October 2, 2007


"Sometimes I just want to handcuff him to the table," was the description of his Science teacher.  "I just hate him," barked his Math teacher.  "He… is... just… so... un-teachable," according to the assistant principal. 

How are we describing our students??  Naw, that is too nice of a way to say that.  How about… WHAT THE FUCK??  I cannot stand this monsterization of our young black men. 

Handcuff to the fucking table?? Handcuff?? Naw yo, its you.. You don't know how to reach him.  You don't know how to handle your stupid classroom.  You don't know shit about young black men. 

You hate him?  That is no way to talk about a child.  You hate him?  This is a personal attack!.  Personal and inappropriate.  How can you be an effective teacher when you are devoting all of that negative energy towards him??

Un-teachable?  Naw bitch- you are just incompetent.

It disgusts me to think that my colleagues think that it is acceptable to speak about children in this manner.  Don't they know of the racial, historical, and social implications of a white man talking about handcuffing a black boy?  The racial undertones of my colleagues are making me sick to my stomach.  My militancy is itching to get out.  With Jena 6 lingering in my mind and with the racist teachers that I'm working with, my revolutionary agenda might just come to center stage.


Chris said...

Wow--do you realize the extent of your inconsistencies here?

First, you complain about racism, and refer to students with detention as the"Jena 6." I had sympathy with your blog up to this point. Yes, the detentions for some students were extreme, but they are not the Jena 6! The Jena 6 deserve to be punished--they commited assault. The students who hung the nooses also deserve to be punished--but by the legal system, not their classmates.

Next, you accuse teachers of not understanding young black men. Based on this, you obviously think young black men are different than young white men, and should be treated differently and with different expectations.

How can you ask for equality when you yourself claim black men are different?

Anonymous said...

chris- u r a dumbass

NYC Teaching Fellow said...

My oh my oh my.. Where oh where do I start in response to 'Chris'. Let me pause and collect my thoughts and get back to yall. (sigh)

Anonymous said...

You won't always be able to get through to every student either and you too will get frustrated. Whether or not you express this frustration aloud, you will feel it.
I promise that if you go to an all white school, the teachers will be saying the same exact things about their students too.
Saying such negative things isnt ideal and isnt productive, but venting sometimes helps.
I guess what is frustrating is the self-important, self-impressed tone that this blog takes.

Jose said...

First off, let me just say that the reason why Jena 6 is so important is because the justice system is doing an injustice to its own system. I understand that there has to be punishment for any kid beating up on another kid so violently, but to send the 6 to jail when the "victim" went out to party the morning after is absolutely absurd. What's more, because the justice system wasn't working in their favor when they first brought up the issue of the ropes hanging from the tree (they were told the equivalent of "Oh they're just playing around. It's nothing."), as kids, they found no other solution but to rebell and act out. A schoolyard fight is means for 15 years in jail but mock death threats are cool? Thanks, chris.

This is a comparable situation because of the perceptions people have about Blacks whether north or south. Unfortunately, people think that young black men are nothing but animals or pity cases, and not actual people.

Research shows that even the "unsolvable" mentally ill children can be "cured" if we just talk to them and deprogram that mentality. With that said, the teachers who treat the kid like that need to recognize how they're contributing to the child's own descent into the stereotypes that they hold for him.

The handcuffing and hatred that these teachers express are not just frustrations with the job, but thorough misconceptions about their own positions within society.

Jose said...

p.s. - Your best weapon isn't anger, but intelligent dialogue and thorough action, but it's cool to vent, too. Peace.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Jose said...

"p.s. - Your best weapon isn't anger, but intelligent dialogue and thorough action, but it's cool to vent, too. Peace."

I'll second that motion. Sorry you had to listen to that cow flop.

Hugh aka Repairman

another teacher said...

Your rage is justifiable, but pace yourself. You're taking on a monster here and its a long battle. You've only been teaching for a month!

Jose is right that your best weapon is intelligent dialogue and action.

I've been reading your blog here for a bit and like it a lot.

subtext said...

Anger is an energy, Johnny Rotten chanted. I've often wondered how one can channel that energy. Yes, venting is often an essential thing. Yet, essentializing students, and ourselves is often dangerous. To follow Jose's thoughts on deprograming: identity is formed by both the dominant social group and the resistance to that dominance. Di Holland's book on Identity and Figured Worlds is fascinating, but I am too tired right now to discuss it. Teaching is fun but exhausting.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you managed to relax a bit by now. Teaching is very overwhelming, but once racism comes in it can be extremely hard to bear. I agree with the previous comments that the main thing is to stay calm.

Focus on your positive energy. You are invaluable for your students. You can stand up for them in a positive way and be a role model for them. You show them that teachers can be different. That is what deserves your energy right now, not the battle with your colleagues that are not open to criticism anyway. Hold on in there!

mex (aka Syb) said...

You will think the same things.. many times.. whether you say them aloud or not.. you may even discover that you have those (angry) feelings about a +favorite+ kid.. and yeah.. tchrs +do+ have faves (We just don't show it)

Just like yr own (biological) kids can push yr buttons (both innocently, and on purpose).. so WILL someone else's kid.

Heck, even my favorite person in the house (my dog) can push my buttons... "I'm gonna shoot you!" (Am I? HECK NO.. Am I angry cuz she growled at another dog, and made me look bad? HECK YES)

Anyhoo.. my point is (and I DO have one.. maybe several)...the point is.. yr co-workers may very well be racist.. but UNLESS you hear them say "I wanna chain him/her to a table because he/she is _________" (fill whatever race)... you owe me an apology.. if nobody else.. cuz I am offended and the assumption. You, afterall, are not IN their head/thoughts. Nor am I.) At the vvv least, you might have said to the principal, "Would it be ok for ME to start a list of strategies for this kid?"

As the adage goes.. Be a part of the Solution. Not The problem... And ranting on a blog isn't solving anything...

Cuz.. lemme tell you (please), I am soooo tired of ass-u-me


I agree w/ you about one thing.. the kids do need male role models (teachers).. both the boys and the girls.. but gender is all that matters.. cuz boys are from Mars and girls are from Venus. Black men are from Mars and Spanish women are from Venus..


NYC Teaching Fellow said...

I had to sit on this for a full day. Let me start with the Jena 6- (of which I did a lesson on today thanks to the responses to my blog- so not for nothing- thanks)

So, Chris- The Jena 6. Yea man, its relevant. It is connectable. It is important to discuss at all levels of communication. And FYI, I am without apology for my previous post about connecting the Jena 6 to my middle school 8. All things are relative. If you cannot make the connection- that is on you- I will not walk you through it. I’m tired and I have papers to grade.

However, “Chris”, your ignorance shines when you make comments like “you accuse teachers of not understanding young black men. Based on this, you obviously think young black men are different than young white men, and should be treated differently and with different expectations”.

All I “expect” from teachers is that they learn about the communities [and the histories] of the students of which they are teaching. A white man saying that he wants to handcuff a black boy to a desk is inappropriate! It has racial and historical sentiments. He might of well used the word shackle. But again, if you cannot understand this, than you need to educate yourself on African American history!

And lastly, your finally question poses a lasting impression of your true ignorance: “How can you ask for equality when you yourself claim black men are different?”

First of all, homie, I never asked for equality in that specific post. That was far from the topic of conversation. Actually, equality is my expectation. And lets not talk about what I am asking for. How about lets talk about what I want. I WANT teachers to know the realities of their students and the communities and shared histories of which they are a part of!!!

Next, Mr. “Anonymous” (lol)… your entire commentary is problematic. So, first off, of course I will get frustrated and I get frustrated at times while teaching! Isn’t frustration part of the process?

“I promise that if you go to an all white school, the teachers will be saying the same exact things about their students too.”

Why are you telling me what white teachers might possibly be telling to white students? That is irrelevant to me (and to you) because you are speaking on speculation, and the bottom line, is that I am not working in an “all white school” as you say. PLUS- “all white schools” have their own issues to deal with, (remember Columbine??) I’m not sure what “all white schools” are saying to their students, and I am not really concerned. What I know is that I’m teaching in the hood, and I’m speaking on that!

Your next quotable moment was, “I guess what is frustrating is the self-important, self-impressed tone that this blog takes.” With that one, you win the best quotable award! So, now you are talking about how my blog is frustrating you!!! LOL. I had a real kick out of that one. I guess you are modeling for me how to express my frustrations aloud, “because I will feel it” as you say.

You are a fool.

Did I really cause you frustrations? Are you going to be ok? “Self important, self impressed tone”. What should I be? Unimportant and unimpressive? I know I can always be a more effective educator. But what I’m doing right now is working. RESPECT THAT. And please, don’t project your own personal unimportance and unimpressive teaching career on me!!

Jose- thank you for your response and support. It’s hard out there for a pimp for a teacher trying to teach from the heart.

Repairman Hugh- (nice to meet you- lol!) These folks on here are crazy. But you know what, I’m not trippin- my skin is thick- My Momma taught me right!

‘Another teacher’- Thanks for your support.. I was feeling you and I acknowledge your suggestion for me to pace myself “because I’ve only been teaching for a month”. Except- in my community I feel like I have to teach and work with a sense of urgency. No time to be passive- about anything.

Subtext- I value your response, but would love for you to decode it! LOL

Frumteacher- Interesting. I’m with you until the end of your commentary. “That is what deserves your energy right now, not the battle with your colleagues that are not open to criticism anyway.” I actually think that my colleagues (and myself) are open to criticism. Positive and negative. I don’t believe that it is acceptable for teachers to talk to and about students in any way. They need to be checked. Imagine- if all of that came out while talking to me, I wonder what comes out when those teachers talk with their friends about that student?

And lastly (save the best for last), “Mex”. Your mini-speech/monologue was deep. Please, please, please do not attempt to tell me what I will think or what I will think. Know that! And know that you don’t know me! How about YOU focus on YOU!

And you are talking about “biological kids” and your “favorite person in your house being a dog” (maybe you should think about that first- your favorite person is a.. dog) Whoa!!! What district do you teach in!!!???!!??. They let you teach homie?

Anyway, please keep your commentary relevant! You saying that you want to “shoot” your dog is your own personal issue that has nothing to do with education. To bring it to an educational context, ummm, if I heard a teacher say that he or she wanted to ‘shoot’ a student (even if it was out of frustration), I wouldn’t write about it in this blog- I would call the police aswell as the department of education to have yo ass removed any environment that involves students!

Mex, what was your point? Racism does not have to be explicit! What world/time do you live in? If you think it must be explicit, than you do not need to be an educator.

Another question- does MEX stand for Mexican? Is that what people call you? Mex? Nevermind! That is a whole other problem.

But lest I forget. “Mex”- you want an apology? Umm.. from who??? From me??!?!? You are a fucking fool. CAPICHE????

Margaret said...

I must agree with you that any talk of chaining anyone to a desk would make me angry. We all have frustrations with our students, but if we only knew what many of them deal with at home, AND at school, we would be much more loving, and sympathetic. Some of my students' life stories utterly tear my heart out.

NYC Teaching Fellow said...

Margaret- very well said. ive been handcuffed (unjustly) before, as i'm sure (unfortunately) some of my students will be. so for a teacher to talk about handcuffing a student is, to me, sickening...

educationbyanymeansnecessary said...

I agree-Chris-u r a dumbass