Monday, June 4, 2012

White Teacher Calls Child Nappy Headed

I most certainly was not surprised when I heard that a White female teacher decided to tell a 13 year old girl in her class, to "sit your nappy-headed self down."  Of course, the fellow students in Brea Persley's class laughed, thus shaming the child. The teacher later called to apologize but the parents were not satisified, and booked an appoint with the principal which lead to Brea being removed from the school with three weeks to go in the school year. According to the Persley's the principal claimed to be "happy" that this happened and further went on to comment, “bad things need to happen to mean kids.”



To be clear, there is never any circumstance in which it is appropriate for a teacher to ever speak to a child in her charge in this manner.  The fact that it came from a White woman further makes her comments racially charged. Hair for Black women is a very sensitive issue and something that we have to deal with from a very young age. Having nappy hair and of itself is not a bad thing, but the manner in which the teacher framed her comment suggested that nappy hair was not beautiful and in fact something to be laughed at and ridiculed.  It was a case of a teacher not only exercising her adult privilege but most certainly her racial one.  She chose a characteristic known to be harmful and apologizing after the fact does not erase the harm done. Of course, she didn't mean it that way though.


Given the principals alleged commentary, I am further not surprised that a teacher in hir school would feel that this kind of language is appropriate.  I am sure that many of you are familiar with the little rhyme about girls being made sugar and spice and all that's nice. Well here's a news flash, this little rhyme does not apply to girls of colour.  Just like adult Black women, Black girls are nearly universally thought of as angry, aggressive, rude and hostile.   If you doubt it, have a look at this.

Tami found these cards while shopping, and I agree that they illustrate who is seen as good and pure. If the same action is committed by a person of colour and a White person, it is most certain that the person who will receive the most vehement response will be the person of colour.  We are criminalized long before any crime is committed.

If she didn't already know it, Brea Persley learned that in just a few words, she could be stripped of her humanity by a White person.  It is a harsh lesson but one all Black children must learn to negotiate a White supremacist state. When I talk about Black children not being allowed to maintain their innocence, incidents like this are exactly what I mean.