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Sat Oct 19, 2019, 03:17 PM

Black high school security guard fired after telling student not to call him the n-word

When a disruptive student called him the n-word multiple times, Wisconsin high school security assistant Marlon Anderson repeated the epithet while condemning its use. For that, Anderson said, he lost his job.

Days after the exchange between the security guard and the student, both of whom are black, the Madison School District told Anderson he was being dismissed. Officials pointed to a zero-tolerance policy on employee use of racial slurs, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The firing sparked outrage inside West High School and far outside it. As students staged a walkout to protest the decision, former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan blasted it as “more evidence our country still can’t handle issues of race and racism.” Amid the backlash came a conversation about the effectiveness of a district policy that forbids the use of offensive language, no matter the context.

Anderson, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said many students have used the n-word against him in his 11 years with the district, and he has always explained its history and meaning. He’s determined to get his job back.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/19/black-high-school-security-fired-after-telling-student-not-call-him-n-word/

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Reply Black high school security guard fired after telling student not to call him the n-word (Original post)
SunSeeker Oct 2019 OP
Collimator Oct 2019 #1
SunSeeker Oct 2019 #3
femmedem Oct 2019 #2
cwydro Oct 2019 #4

Response to SunSeeker (Original post)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 03:42 PM

1. To me, there has always been a difference. . .

. . .Between "saying" a word and "using" a word.

I once said the n-word in a sentence in which I described another person's actions. I didn't like it; but I was retelling the story in true detail to convey the intensity of what happened. The eyes of the co-worker with whom I was speaking widened a bit, but she knew that I was not calling someone that word.

That conversation happened nearly 25 years ago. The use of the euphemism for the slur is more the norm now, even when discussing the use of the real word in an academic context. Part of me is glad. Its true ugliness and the pain it has wrought makes it deeply, horribly obscene to my ears. To me, it is the verbal equivalent of brutally slapping a person across the face.

On the other hand, is the word being given more power by forbidding it even in discussions that are academic and semantic in nature? I don't claim to know. I certainly don't claim the right to be the one deciding, but I do feel that even a white person such as myself has a right to at least ask questions and wonder about the power of language in this situation.

Another aspect of the power of that word that makes me uncomfortable is its use in songs. Intellectually, I understand the purpose of reclaiming the word. Far be it for me to argue anyone's personal journey in managing the word and a black identity in this world. I am just being honest when I say that it makes me uncomfortable because I know that it's not really a "dirty" word, but an ugly and hateful one.

I apologize if it seems as though I am framing the narrative of this problem around my view, that's not my intent. For the record, of course the man should not have been fired. He wasn't calling anybody by the word; he was pointing out some of the problems associated with the word. He was also asking for some basic human respect. God forbid we should start handing that out on every street corner. s/

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Response to Collimator (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 04:42 PM

3. Thank you for your thoughful post.

My son listens to a lot of rap music by black artists who use the n-word. When I say it is awful for them to say that, my son just laughs at me and says they're black, it's not the same thing as if a white oerson says it. I disagree, and obviously this security guard does too, as he was trying to explain to the black student who called him that word.

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Response to SunSeeker (Original post)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 04:39 PM

2. The students walking out give me hope for the future.

It's outrageous to fire a black man for using the word in the context of defending himself from hate speech.
I understand the good intent behind the zero tolerance policy, but there should also be an appeals process for circumstances like this.

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Response to SunSeeker (Original post)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 04:43 PM

4. The student calling him that horrid word was also black.

It seems to be somehow acceptable in some communities.

It shouldn’t be.

Or it will never go away.

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