In a recent article, a West Deptford Public School student, has filed a civil lawsuit claiming non responsiveness for continued racism in education. The litigants claim that West Deptford Public School administrators failed to respond appropriately to repeated complaints of racial and sexual bullying. The lawsuit claims that as the racism in education continued it was reported to teachers, guidance counselors, assistant principals, and principals with no appropriate response.
Whether West Deptford Public School administrators agree or disagree with a racial or sexual complaint, it is their responsibility to respond to the complaint otherwise it could be considered racism in education.
As the attacks continued, the student was told to start wearing a weave. A hair weave involves the integration of human or artificial hair into one’s own hair. Typically, hair weaving is thought to be used only by African American women. However, both Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé wear weaves, but you only hear about Beyoncé wearing a weave. In some cases wearing a weave is an insult to African Americans because it is the same as saying that naturally Black hair is inadequate when compared to White hair. Black hair is normally curly while White hair is straight.
According to the Atlanta Black Star, there are several benefits of wearing Black hair naturally which include:
- Styling Natural Hair is More Economical
- Natural Hair Can Help Black People Regain Control of The Black Hair Care Industry
- Natural Hair Can Be Cared For Without Dangerous Chemicals
- Natural Hair is Healthier
- Natural Hair is More Versatile
- Combats Society’s Negative Stigma of Natural Black Hair
That is why when the student was told to start wearing a weave it could be deemed as an insult. White staff members who are unaware of this type of racial insult would respond in the same manner as the West Deptford staff did and therefore run the risk of becoming facilitators of racism in education.
I remember as an administrator at Camden County Technical High School, I was responsible for several classroom observations. On this one occasion, I was observing a veteran White female science teacher. She was demonstrating the properties of static electricity. She combed the hair of a Hispanic female student and the experiment worked. Then she called on a Black female student and the experiment did not work. She followed her explanation that the static electric experiment did not work by stating, “This is why we do not wear this type of hair”. I thought to myself, how insulting. It was actually a great opportunity to reinforce why plastic and human hair do not have the same response when considering static electricity.
The West Deptford staff members have the same racial insensitivities that cause litigation that has resulted from racism in education. There are many cases when teachers are racially insensitive. It may help for the West Deptford staff members to review a Black racial slur database to ensure that they no longer subject students to racism in education. It will also help the West Deptford Public School staff to review some of the recent news articles regarding teacher racist remarks.
In order for the West Deptford Public school staff to avert future litigation consistent with racism in education they should use the following process:
If a student believes that racial harassment has occurred, the student should:
- Inform the offending person that his/her conduct is unwelcome and should cease immediately. It is important for the victim to communicate that the conduct is unwelcome, particularly when the alleged harasser may have some reason to believe that the racial harassment may be welcome. However, a victim of racial harassment need not confront his/her harasser directly, so long as his/her conduct demonstrates that the harasser’s behavior is unwelcome.
- If the alleged racial harassment does not cease, it promptly should be reported to the teacher. In turn the teacher must document the report and the resolutions provided. The teacher must then submit a report to the principal or designee.
- If the alleged racial harassment does not cease, then the student/parent must report it to the superintendent. The superintendent will make recommendations to the school board for additional actions.
- If a teacher is perceived as racially harassing a student, then the parent/student needs to report the incident directly to the principal. The principal will make recommendations to the superintendent who will in turn appraise the school board of all actions taken.
- If a principal or any other employee is racially harassing a student, then the parent should report the incident to the superintendent who will in turn make recommendation to the school board.
The biggest challenge for the West Deptford Public Schools is that the student followed the process and there was no proper relief rendered. The school district will have to transition their culture by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (properateasclaships) in order to avert future racism in education.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
Get Email Updates
Author of 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