Thursday, December 18, 2014

Empress Michelle Doesn't Work Here

A few years ago I had a student in my class who saw racism behind every corner.  His seat was on the aisle which meant he was a row leader.  Row leaders were responsible for passing papers and other material down the row to his team mates.  Row leaders were also responsible for making sure all material was handed back at the end class so I could collect these things in an organized fashion. 

When I would hand things to the row leaders I would say "Please hand this down to your team mates."  At the end of class I would thank the row leaders for their help.  I always used please and thank you to model appropriate behavior and respect.

When I would ask this particular student to hand things down to his team mates he would say, "You just asking me to do this cause you're racist."  If he didn't have a pencil or a pen, he'd say, "I don't got nothing to write with cause this racist school is oppressing me.  School is supposed to be free you know."  I would always provide him or anyone else with free pens or pencils but still I'd have to hear his spiel.  It seemed he was looking for attention and hoping to get some laughs from his classmates with his comments.

 At first, I ignored him.  I felt he was trying to get my goat and I was trying to extinguish the behavior by ignoring it.  After a week or two it finally got to me.  So one day after I handed out the material for that particular class I knelt near his desk and asked him to step into the hall.  

He looked at me with this big smile and then sauntered out of the classroom.  "SQUEEZE me I think  she wants to see me." he said to his classmates in attempt to bring attention to himself.
Once out in the hall I told him that I was sorry.  This kind of threw him.  It was probably the last thing he expected and he certainly couldn't figure out why I was sorry. 

I told him that I liked him but I was concerned because I was obviously saying or doing something to make it appear as though I didn't like him because my actions appear racist. 

Now he seemed really confused.  "Ms Cope," he said "I like you too.  You don't treat me bad or nothing."    

"I don't?"  I replied.  Then I'm really confused because you have let me know on several occasions that your role of row leader has some racist aspects and if that's so I want to change this.  I don't want you to feel uncomfortable coming to my class."

He looked down for a second and said, "I don't Ms. Cope.  I'm just saying.  You know Whites are racist but you awl right."  

I put out my hand for him to shake and said, "Please let me know if I ever say anything or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable OK?"  

For the most part the chants of "That's Racist" stopped.  Every now and then he'd say it but then immediately say "Just kidding Ms. Cope.  You know I love you."

Memories of this young man came rushing back to me recently when I heard Michelle Obama cite an alleged example of racism at a Target Store.  Empress Michelle recants how a "RACIST" woman asked her to help  get something down off a shelf because the woman supposedly believed that Michelle worked there.  (What gave it away the Secret Service guys talking into their wrists?)  Obviously the ONLY reason SHE was asked to help get that item off a high shelf was because SHE is BLACK.  

Great story, unless you happen to remember when she first told this story back in 2013.  In this recounting of the story, a woman asked Michelle for help because Michelle was taller and thus able to reach the item in the detergent aisle.  The woman also used the words "EXCUSE ME" before asking Michelle to do her a favor.  

This incident must have been a milestone in the Empress' life.  I suppose now that she has had time to think it over she realized that her act of kindness was actually her submissive reaction to overt racism.  It truly amazes me that Michelle can play the victim from a simple request for help.

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