The N Word

This is from last year when I taught Culinary Arts.
My 8th Graders were rambunctious. One of my students was throwing things and running around the room and refusing to sit down. I got face to face with them.
C: Get out of my face nigga!
Mr. C: Sit down.
C: Nigga! Nigga! Nigga!
Mr. C: Are you seriously calling me that right now?
C: Yeah nigga. This is some bullshit nigga!
Mr. C: Is it?
C: Yeah.
Mr. C: Why would you call me that? I don’t like that word, and I’m white.
C: (stare)
Mr. C: Do you know what that word means?
C: It means you an ignorant black person.
Mr. C: So why would you call me that?
C: (Silence)
Mr. C: That word is derogatory and demeaning.
C: I don’t know what those words mean.
Mr. C: They mean being disrespectful.
C looks away.
Mr. C: Look at me.
Do you respect me?
C: Yeah.
Mr. C: Then sit down.
C sits down.

This was actually a breakthrough. When I first started teaching at this school, I had to earn my respect from my students. It was a proving ground. There was a period of time where my students were pushing the boundaries. These students don’t like change, so they didn’t like me at first. Some students wanted to make my life hell thinking that I would quit. They wanted their old teacher back. But after a while, the students came around. I earned their respect and a right to stay at this school.


2nd block with 8th graders:

A student takes a liking to my hat.

L: Aw I like this, can I have it?
Mr. C: No.
L: Where you get it?
Mr. C: Chicago.
L: Do I look like I care?
Mr. C: I don’t know, you certainly just asked me where I got it.
L: You look itty today.
Mr. C: What?
L: Itty.
Mr. C: What does that mean?
L: Shitty.
Mr. C: Stop cursing.
J: No shitty aint a curse word.
Mr. C: Yes it is.
D: Nah, it mean “fresh.”
Mr. C: Hmm. Well just use itty I guess.
J: Shitty ain’t a curse, it mean it good. But If I say something like shut up you shitty ass–
Mr. C: Stop. No matter what the context is, you are still using the same word.