White Teacher Sues To Use N-Word
MSNBC.COM - A 48-year-old Chicago public school teacher used the "n-word" as part of a lesson on the perils and pitfalls of racism, and it landed him a five-day suspension from his job. The teacher is fighting back, filing a federal lawsuit against the district and claiming that his civil rights have been violated.
Lincoln Brown, a 21-year veteran teacher and native of Chicago's Hyde Park, used the word in his sixth grade classroom at Murray Language Academy on Oct. 4, 2011 after discovering a note that female student was passing had the slur written on it as apart of some rap lyrics. Brown, who is white, used the note as an opportunity to teach lesson about racism in the context of Huckleberry Finn.
In almost impeccable timing, as soon as Brown said the "n-word," the school's principal, George Mason, walked in the room, and the trouble started.
"This cannot be apart of who I am," Brown said during a press conference with his attorney. "My character has been assassinated."
Mason gave a different account of the incident and charged Brown with "using verbally abusive language to or in front of students" and "cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal conduct or communication to a student, that causes psychological or physical harm" which is in violation of the Chicago Public Schools policy. Mason disputed the context in which Brown used the n-word.
"We've talked about racial stereotyping and how words really shape people's ideas of who you are," Brown said. "I cannot tell you how much it hurts me to say that word."
Following a disciplinary hearing, Brown was suspended for five days without pay. CPS denied Brown's appeal of the suspension on grounds that he "engaged in inappropriate discussions with sixth-grade students during instructional time."
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