When Political and Racist Views Intersect
Recently, a seventh grade teacher in Jackson County school district in Florida received a 10-day suspension without pay and was ordered to write a letter of apology to his students for writing a racially charged interpretation of the word “change” during a social studies class. The teacher explained to his students, that the Obama’s campaign slogan stood for “Come Help A (N-word) Get Elected.”
Though the teacher was reassigned to teach in the district’s Adult Education Program, the deputy superintendent did not feel that he should be fired, in part because the racial epitaph was not directed at individual students, but at a political party. Are expressions of racism any less consequential if they are expressed in the presence of minorities, but not directed at them as individuals? Can expressions of racist ideologies in the presence of racial minorities not be perceived as something personal regardless of how they are delivered? There is much research in social psychology concerning the psychological injury caused by racism which supports the argument that, regardless of how this teacher chose to deliver his “political” views, the consequences of the racist message were no less consequential. Additionally, when racists views are packaged as political, are they any less racist?
It is worth noting that we, collectively as a country, have moved beyond such overt racism. As a result, when individuals are so blatant in showing their racist ideologies many are appalled and choose to speak out. Though this may possibly be indicitive of progress, many believe that we have simply moved from the overt to the covert. Covert racism is just as consequential and, as Coates argues, only obfuscates the issue. To learn more about covert racism find Coates article below.