Before some of you get all upset, yes, I used the word “finna.” I know, I know. “But that’s not a word!” Believe me, as an English teacher who wants to throat punch any and everyone who uses “conversate” or “irregardless” in a sentence I completely feel your angst. But, I live in the South so not only is “finna” a word it’s the only word that correctly expresses the mood I’m in now. So, relax. I’m a trained professional.
In the days since we discovered it was the end of the world as we know it, some folks have been getting really bold. I mean REALLY bold. I mean, “have you lost all of your mind” bold. Per the Southern Poverty Law Center, over 700 reports of bullying, hate speech, sexual harassment, and intimidation have been reported since the election. Emboldened by TPE, those who reside in the basket of deplorables (Yeah. I said it. And?) have decided to celebrate this victory by being as obnoxious, threatening, distasteful, hateful, and jackassish as possible (No. That’s not a word but I’m a professional, remember?) Please don’t misunderstand, I am all for free speech. Go ahead and flex on folks with your 1st Amendment Rights if you so choose but please don’t start whining and get all sensitive when you get called out on your rhetoric and you lose your job. Someone might care about your feelings. I won’t but I’m sure someone will.
Clearly, people have forgotten that we live in 1984. Big Brother, Big Sister, Big Auntie, Uncle, Cousin, and Next Door Neighbor are ALL watching and listening. ALL day. ALL night. There is no such thing as privacy so if you decide to jump stupid someone somewhere is going to catch it and share it with the rest of us and yes, we will be judging you. Now, if you’re a private citizen you might not care. You might have showed your natural ass for all to see simply because you wanted to, consequences be damned. Kudos to you. But if you call yourself a public servant, government official, or teacher the “IDGAF” Rule does not apply. Sorry, not sorry.
Because I am an educator who genuinely cares about her kids, I am duty bound to ensure that all of them not only learn but are educated in an environment that is conducive to that learning. This means creating a space for creativity, critical thinking, and risk taking; a space where opinions are varied but respect is consistent; a space where students are safe to be who they are without condemnation and know that they are loved and well-held. This should be the case for all educators but nope. See, I’m THAT teacher who will go to war about her students if necessary. I am the proverbial Momma Bear who will tap into her inner Wolverine if you even THINK about messing with any of my kids and for the record, every student I have the privilege of teaching or interacting with is mine. I will protect them as fiercely as I will my own daughter and if you try to harm them in any way you will most assuredly hear the following come out of my mouth “What you’re NOT finna do is [insert what you’re not finna do here].” This is especially true if you happen to be a teacher yourself.
Recently, reports have been emerging about teachers across the country getting loose with their opinions and thoughts about their students of color and I am not here for any of it. As educators our job is to protect our students and not harm them. The premise of the Hippocratic Oath, first, do no harm applies to us too but some folks have developed amnesia. So, in an effort to help those among you who know a teacher who needs some help distinguishing between what is acceptable and what falls into the “what you’re not finna do” category I leave you with a few tips inspired by the stupidity I’ve seen in the news recently.
- Thou shalt not find yourself being recorded telling students that as soon as President Trump takes the oath of office their parents will be deported and they will be in foster care. (California)
- Thou shalt not make disparaging remarks about undocumented immigrants when you work at a high school where 86% of the students are Hispanic or Latino . (Georgia)
- Thou shalt not approach two African American students who are in the hallway, ask what they were doing, and proceed to tell them “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.”(Florida)
- Thou shalt not tell your class full of African American students that they are “punk ass nig*** who are gonna get shot because they are stupid.” (Maryland)
- Thou shalt not post pictures of your students on any social media site and call them a**holes or any other derogatory term. (Maryland)
Listen educators, you have the right to be stupid. Really you do. But when your stupidity impedes your ability to work with all students I’m gonna need you to quit because clearly you are unfit and your ignorance will not be tolerated. Perhaps you can look in Washington, DC and see what’s available. I hear both ignorance and stupidity are highly sought after skill sets these days.