In Seattle, Wash., a white male teacher had an 8-year-old African American girl removed from the classroom. In most cases, children are removed for behavioral and disciplinary issues, which is clearly understandable and acceptable; however, this wasn’t the case here.
The teacher removed the girl, claiming her Afro was making him sick. Naturally, the father of the child, Charles Mudede, was extremely concerned after the incident, and, as a result, the girl, who was the only black child in the advanced-placement class, has missed two weeks of school.
The incident, which occurred at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, was featured on KIRO-TV. The segment showed the hair product the girl used, Organic Root Stimulator's Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion, as well as interviews with her mother and lawyer.
While the girl was eventually relocated to another class down the hall, the fact remains that such a decision could be made by a teacher alone, without the school contacting the parents directly — especially given the implications on the surface of a white teacher picking on a single black child as being the origin of his allergy. The NAACP stated that it will file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.
The fact that a teacher would engage in such behavior is troublesome — especially in front of other students. If America is in a post racial period, it appears that “post” and “pre” may be synonymous. Teresa Wippel, school district representative, said, “We're certainly concerned about the incident and are looking into it. … Our goal is to make sure the student returns to school. The parents have, so far, not wanted to put her back in school. They want to be sure everything is resolved to their satisfaction.”
We, as a people, have endured many centuries of being degraded just for our physical features. I understand the strength and pride that Charles Mudede is displaying with respect to this situation. I, too, am a parent, and teach my children that the way they speak and look and act makes me proud, and that they should maintain such fortitude when others cannot acknowledge what they see in themselves. –torrance stephens, ph.d.