A 43-year-old Staten Island Black man, Eric Garner, died after a police officer used a chokehold that is apparently not authorized by the New York Police Department regulations. Persons who witnessed that attempted arrest, along with community leaders believe that the incident is an example of police brutality and racism toward Blacks.
While we never want to use the death of any individual to circumvent the value of human life, the Eric Garner incident provides educators, specifically teachers, an opportunity to reduce the racial tension that exist in classrooms. When teachers make the decision to protect students from incidents such as the Eric Garner incident, they begin to remove themselves from the target of racial tension to a leader against racism.
Because you are the authority figure in the classroom, some students may associate the alleged racism in the Eric Garner incident with some of the past incidents that they have had with teachers and administrators. The students may feel uncomfortable with the teacher, which will inhibit their educational growth. As the teacher, you should be racially sensitive and take some time to enhance the classroom relationships with your students.
When your students come to your classroom, ask them what do they know about the Eric Garner incident. As students respond to your question, it is very important that you do not interject your opinion. The next step is to ask students, “Based on what we know about the incident, what can you do to ensure that you do not become involved with the police in the same manner?”
Teachers can also use the Eric Garner Webquest for discussions with students.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
Published Book – Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President