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Richmond County teacher reprimanded over fliers containing racial slur

Thursday, March 14, 2013 7:50 PM
Last updated Friday, March 15, 2013 2:04 AM
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Richmond County school Super­intendent Frank Roberson issued a written reprimand Tuesday to a T.W. Josey Comprehensive High School English/language arts teacher who distributed two handouts with racial slurs to students in February.

Lori Myles did not sign the letter of reprimand and will now appeal.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Lori Myles did not sign the letter of reprimand and will now appeal.

The fliers, using a slur commonly known as the N-word, were apparently intended to “shame these students by indicating their behavior was an affront to the memories and brave examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks,” Roberson’s letter stated.

One handout showed a photo of King being arrested and stated “MLK was a (slur) if … he wasted his time!”

There is space on the bottom for the student to sign and date the flier to acknowledge, “I have this letter because my actions, my life and my ways show that Martin Luther King wasted his time! Thanks for nothing, My (slur)!”

The other flier describes Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on an Alabama bus in 1955, along with her mug shot after her arrest. It states: “She sat down with a made up mind … so I wouldn’t have to live with the name (slur).”

Roberson stated in the reprimand that the manner in which the teacher, Lori Myles, chose to correct students who misbehave was astonishing, unprofessional, uncalled for and inappropriate. Myles, a teacher who has 26 years of experience and is black, said she was trying to get students to understand the hate and depth of the word and how it should never be used, especially today.

“Our students’ daily culture is to use the word (racial slur) for friends, as a regular, everyday word,” Miles said. “I still feel like it was a good lesson. I have students now correcting others and correcting themselves. I’ve heard guys say, ‘Call me anything, but don’t call me that.’ ”

Myles did not sign the letter of reprimand and will now appeal the discipline to the school board, she said.

Though she acknowledged she did not seek approval to use the fliers in the classroom, Myles said students are exposed to the same slur in the high school curriculum. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an optional part of the 11th-grade curriculum in Richmond County, uses the word 219 times.

Myles said she did not give the flier to any particular student but displayed it on an overhead projector for the class to see.

According to students interviewed by school officials, the letter was handed out to a select few.

“The students that received the letter were having disciplinary problems in the class,” according to the notes written by “the discipline team” at Josey. “The students were given the letter at the beginning of class and were asked to sign it. The students that received the letter were upset and thought that the letter wasn’t warranted.”

In a letter of advisement from Principal Ronald Wiggins to Myles Feb. 26, he said it does not matter if the flier’s intent was for discipline or classroom work.

“It does not matter the purpose, the documents are outside the state curriculum, does not comply with board policy for outside sources and the wording is inappropriate for young people whom you are attempting to build an educational community,” Wiggins wrote.

Roberson wrote that he assumed Myles’ behavior was “without racial animus” but was degrading and has “no place in our schools or classrooms.”

Myles said her point was to show that the word has no place in casual conversation, textbooks or anywhere else.

“It was a lesson,” Myles said. “If we think (the slur) is acceptable at any time, then we are doing just as the flier says. We are desecrating the memory.”

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millymilly
110
Points
millymilly 03/15/13 - 10:26 am
6
0
The saddest part about this

The saddest part about this story, is that Ms. Myles actually had to do this. The "N" word should be considered a curse word in households. Should my children use it, it is treated as the same offense as if they were saying a curse word. Soap in the mouth. If they say it while I'm not around (they are teenage boys, certainly not perfect), I would hope someone would bring it to my attention so it could be addressed.

I don't think what Ms. Myles did was wrong. I think she is fed up with the classless, lower standard that is being accepted today. She obviously cares about the next generation and went to extreme's to correct the behavior. But it really should start at home.

GnipGnop
11540
Points
GnipGnop 03/15/13 - 10:36 am
6
0
I applaud Ms. Myles' approach but...

Not her application. I disagree with Hank3. The word is ugly no matter how it is used. Your argument is without merit. That's like saying the F bomb is ok in some applications but not others. I am curious though. What are the ramifications if a student uses it to greet another student. I have witnessed it done in front of a few teachers at Sego and they ignored it like it was an everyday word. It should be treated as a profane word and punishment should be meted out for it's use.

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 03/15/13 - 10:53 am
4
0
Brilliant...

I think the way this teacher used it, to show that MLK didn't do what he did, suffer like he did and push for equal rights like he did so they could have an equal opportunity to neglect their education was brilliant.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 03/15/13 - 10:58 am
0
0
I guess she had no white
Unpublished

I guess she had no white students? Or did she give them those messages, too?

Cynical old woman
1090
Points
Cynical old woman 03/15/13 - 11:05 am
8
0
Class

She is a class act. Always dressed well, well groomed, well educated, well spoken....she sets a shining example of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work. Apparently the current methods f teaching just how horrible the "n word" is just ain't working....listen to today's kids...it's used quite frequently. So..if you keep doing the same thing you'll get the same results! Therefore, kudos to her!!

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 03/15/13 - 11:50 am
4
0
The sad part

I believe the saddest part of this is that the "offended" students didn't really learn the lesson that she was trying to teach them. Another case of political correctness that continues to promote racism and double standards in our society. When will we stop worrying about hurting everyone's feelings?

phatj
9
Points
phatj 03/15/13 - 12:00 pm
5
0
MAAANNNN

I really think that sight shoudln't lost on the students. The teacher being black and coming from that background of life in my opinion has the skills and the perfect mind set to make a difference in the troublesome youth's lives. I would think that the very moment those students who got the letters felt the pain for which that word was created. My hat goes off to the teacher for actually caring and trying to do something to help rather than just collecting a check and saying in the back of her mind "little dumb kids will never be anything in life!!" Teachers like her help me to be successful and to care about someone and thing else other than myself!!

Just My Opinion
5288
Points
Just My Opinion 03/15/13 - 12:17 pm
2
0
Henry, do you REALLY mean

Henry, do you REALLY mean some of those things you said?? Really??
So, by your statement "....is the intent negative? NO. It is what it is."...it's okay by you that all people are called whatever as long as it's not used in a negative intent? Is that right?
And what about "White people don't like being out of the 'loop'".?? C'mon, you don't see how that just sounds ridiculous? I mean, if you're going to say that, back it up with at least some sort of explanation. Do you mean that whites feel badly because whites can't REALLY be called slurs like this because whites don't have a past where they've suffered enough? Whites can't REALLY pull off being rappers, so they feel out of the loop?
Who's being racist here?
Okay, how about this one, "....and it doesn't have the same meaning when used by these youths."? So, with that reasoning....and I am not totally without understanding on what you're trying to say here...that the use of this word is ONLY allowed for this younger generation, oh, and ONLY if it's black kids? Tell me, what is keeping the older generation from using it..I mean maybe it doesn't have the same meaning to us anymore? Yeah, that's it...I think it's okay to call my wife a C, or a B, or a W, to her face, right in front of her parents and my preacher "because it doesn't have the same meaning when used" by me because I don't think those are bad words anymore.
And I don't think you're being fair when you accuse this lady of not being "a real teacher"...I'm quite sure she didn't just jump to this as her initial lesson.
So you don't think I'm trying to totally dump on you, I WILL say that I do understand what you're getting at here. Kids are different nowadays...always have been, thoughout the ages. And along with you, I do wonder why it's okay for these slurs be used in "Huck Finn" and "Django" and nothing's really said about it. The difference is that "Huck Finn" has been labeled as a classic, and I guess that protects it and holds it up to a higher level...not sure why. If "Django" ever becomes viewed as a classic, then it will enjoy the same protection.
Personally, I think the reason the word lives on is because of the music industry and the vast billions of dollars it is making certain people. The kids, of course, listen to that music, and a great part of that music includes not only the slur, but it's incorporation into a mindset of what "their" culture has been laid out for them by the music industry. It's their choice whether they want to participate in that culture or not.

MarinerMan
2107
Points
MarinerMan 03/15/13 - 12:26 pm
3
0
Roberson is Wrong
Unpublished

Ms. Myles is trying to make a difference. Trying to effect a culture change. She is to be applauded. Outside of the CRCT primer, teachers don't get a lot of chances to "teach" about life. It is a baby step, but it IS A STEP. Ms. Myles, I hope you win your appeal. Hopefully, this BOE can recognize what you were trying to do. To Dr. Roberson - you need all the help you can get. This is a fine teacher, who has served for 26 years. You are wrong in this written reprimand. You fix this. And while you are at it, you come up with an alternative that addresses the issue, instead of staying in the Palace.

Old Timmer
260
Points
Old Timmer 03/15/13 - 12:28 pm
4
0
WAKE UP RCBOE!

Congrats to Ms. Myles. She sounds like a real teacher. If Sup. Roberson & Principal Wiggins do not know this is a problem (gay slurs, F & MF words as well) they know little of the school/hall/classroom experience of today. Don't kid yourself they know & are covering because some parent got mad at their "angel" being admonished. The real cover up is these buzz words, "did not seek approval" & "outside the state curriculum". Both explain why the majority of our kids are not educated!

PrayN4U
281
Points
PrayN4U 03/15/13 - 01:00 pm
3
0
Temporarily Outraged (I AM NOT A "N" NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE

I was temporarily outraged at Martin Luther King being called a "N" but as I read on I understood the reasoning and totally agree with Mrs. Myles. I feel the same way because it insinuates, all those who came before us to fight for what we have now in the form of freedom was for nothing. all of us who remember the struggles and humiliations of bondaged in any form can identify with what she was aiming for. Her reprimand is a cousin to being jailed for the fight to be heard. If this is what it takes to move forward in the 21st century for the right not to be continiously called "N" then it is worth the cost. I will stand with her and thank the media for picking up the story (even though they didn't realize it helps get the message out to stop the "N" word) and sounding the alarm.
This wasn't a city bus but it was a voice for all people of color to wake up and step forward not backwards.

PrayN4U
281
Points
PrayN4U 03/15/13 - 01:06 pm
2
0
???????

Since the "N" word is associated with hatred and prejudice, why isn't it considered to be a hate crime? Why is Mrs. Myles being persecuted for fighting against the word and those who so loosely use it are never approached. This picture and justice is lopsided hhhmmmmmmmm

HenryWalker3rd
2393
Points
HenryWalker3rd 03/15/13 - 01:13 pm
0
4
"If she can, then I can."
Unpublished

Were you guys this upset at Django as you are about my comments? That movie takes a serious issue (slavery) and makes a BIG JOKE about it.

If you don't publicly reprimand the teacher, then other teachers will feel they can teach ANYTHING they choose, as Mrs. M has done. She can teach whatever she wants to, just not on RCBOE time.

Has anyone ever sat down with a youth who uses the word and and asked why? Do they use it in the same way that the actors in Django used it?

Its a tricky word......I'm not the only one who feels that some people just can't use certain words (previous comments) , without there being a backlash. What about the comment earlier about Nazis?

The F word and the N word do not have the same history...how can they be compared?

Thanks for not "dumping" on me.

And "white people don't like being out of the loop" means, SOME white people want to use the word SO BAD...i.e. Django or the cool, "wanna be" kid in your neighborhood, but feel some type of way because they cant.

belle
301
Points
belle 03/15/13 - 02:02 pm
0
0
Loop or Loopy?
Unpublished

The reason SOME white people want to use the so bad and don't ...is because they KNOW it is insulting and they know better. This teacher was trying to help these students know better. I once had a beautiful young black girl tell me she couldn't help but be obnoxious because she was a Negro. I wanted desperately to find her grandmother and get her to repeat it in front of her so I could watch Grandma slap that nonsense out of her.

burninater
8901
Points
burninater 03/15/13 - 03:38 pm
1
1
A lot of interesting points

A lot of interesting points on a complex issue.

I think the one thing we may all agree on from the context of this discussion is that we are not yet a post-racial society.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 03/15/13 - 05:06 pm
0
0
She used
Unpublished

the nerd word?

Darby
23618
Points
Darby 03/16/13 - 09:12 pm
2
0
"but feel some type of....

way because they cant."
.
Now THAT'S articulate...

Still say that lady deserves a promotion and some sort of award. Maybe she should get Roberson's job. She does, at least, seem to know that the school's mission is to educate, not indoctrinate.

When a word, any word is put off limits simply because some shadowy power deems it (potentially) offensive, then that's one more nail in the coffin of free speech. How are we to communicate if there are areas we mutually exclude before we even begin to talk?

Darby
23618
Points
Darby 03/16/13 - 09:23 pm
2
0
"I think the one thing we may...

all agree on from the context of this discussion is that we are not yet a post-racial society."
.
And we never will become such as long as political correctness establishes that one race is so delicate and so fragile, so easily bruised that it must be sheltered and protected from non-existent harm, real or imaginary.

Anyone for a little walking on eggshells?

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