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Teacher Calls Student N-Word During Class Discussion of 'Huckleberry Finn


"She asked me how I felt and I said ‘Honestly, I would probably be suspended because I wanted to get up and hit you.'"

Image source: Keith Bedford / Globe Staff)

One Boston mother is demanding that a high school teacher be fired after the teacher allegedly greeted her daughter with, "What's up, my n*****?" before a class discussion on "Huckleberry Finn."

Although the incident in question occurred in October 2015, Rosalind Wornum said that she did not find out about what the teacher said to her daughter, Destinee, then 15, until January. The irate mother met with Boston Latin School headmaster Lynn Mooney Teta on Wednesday to discuss the incident, the Boston Globe reported.

Destinee, 16, said that she felt "uncomfortable and embarrassed" when her English teacher reportedly walked up to her desk in front of the entire classroom during the class's discussion of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and leveled the racial slur, which is frequently used in the book, at her.

"I didn’t know what to say," Destinee recalled, according to the Boston Globe. "She asked me how I felt, and I said ‘Honestly, I would probably be suspended because I wanted to get up and hit you,'" Destinee added, according to WCVB-TV.

Destinee said that she didn't tell her mother about what happened until months later because she feared the consequences of speaking out about her concerns.

"I honestly didn’t know how to handle it because it was like, 'How do I approach my adult teacher on a situation like this? What would that mean for my grade? What would it mean for my future at BLS?" Destinee told the Boston Globe. "I was in fear of what could happen because it’s like I’m a girl from Dorchester and I ought to be grateful because I go to BLS. That’s the way that they make it seem."

The teen added that she publicly brought up the incident only after fellow BLS students launched a social media campaign in January that denounced racism at the school and began issuing complaints against the school.

"Other people who are opening up about their situations made me feel safer about opening up," Destinee told the Boston Globe. "I’m not the only one, [and] it’s OK for me to tell my situation."

Wornum, who was furious when she heard about what happened to her daughter, met with Teta, who told her that the Office of Equity is investigating the incident and encouraged the two to speak with them about their concerns.

"What was [the teacher] expecting from making that statement to her? Is it standard process in addressing the book? That [statement] was cultural incompetence," Wornum said. "In [Teta] allowing all of this to go on gives the white students more reason to act out because they see it’s OK. They see she’s not doing anything about it."

"I feel like if she wanted to make a point about the n-word, there’s always a different way to go about it,” Destinee told the Boston Globe. "She didn’t have to direct it to me and make me feel uncomfortable like that."

Although Teta agreed with the Wornums that the use of the word was "unacceptable," she said the school itself can’t do anything until the complaint is reviewed by the equity board.

Boston Public Schools released a statement declaring that it is committed to a safe environment for students, saying, "The Office of Equity is committed to investigating any incident of racism or bias it receives," according to WCVB.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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