Racial slurs have no place in a learning enviornment

Survey of 103 students from Oct. 14 to Oct. 28, 2019.

Blot graphic by Lauren Tarigo

Survey of 103 students from Oct. 14 to Oct. 28, 2019.

Eli Tapia

From “The Crucible” to “The Catcher in the Rye,”  the public school high school curriculum includes a number of books written decades ago. Because of this, the language chosen by their authors can reflect past discrimination towards certain groups of people. However, even if a book uses that type of language, it doesn’t make it right for students and teachers to say it while reading out loud. 

The classroom is supposed to be a safe place for both teachers and students, where neither of them should feel out of place. The diversity in classrooms means that students can feel called out by slurs. Even though the discriminatory language is not aimed at them specifically, it can be enough to make them uncomfortable in a setting where they are supposed to feel welcomed. 

According to an article titled “Do Racial Epithets Have Any Place in the Classroom? A Professor’s Suspension Fuels That Debate” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a professor from Augsburg University was recently suspended from teaching after students disagreed with his stance on using racial slurs in class. To defend his stance he assigned reading to his students titled “Good Teachers Use the N-Word” by Andre Perry. 

In a column written by student Terrence Shambley Jr. about the incident, they explained that “the use of oppressive words effectively shuts down the open discussion that some claim is protected academic freedom.” They told The Chronicle that “if you have to evoke trauma in your students to teach them something, it seems counterproductive to me.”

There is no argument that many books containing slurs and oppressive language are a source of learning and provide an image of history. However, using any kind of slurs in a classroom environment is not aiding the learning of any student, but making the learning experience an uncomfortable one.