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The rules of political correctness keep changing.
In the old days, the multiculturalists told us that racism was a one-way street – that blacks and other minorities couldn’t be racist, it was strictly a white disease.
That was because blacks and minorities were not in positions of power, and whites had what was called “white-skin privilege.”
But all that was turned upside down recently when a Bronx teacher, Petrona Smith, a native of the West Indies, was fired for allegedly calling a student a Negro, though she claims it was part of a language lesson and was using the Spanish word for black.
The 65-year-old Smith, a junior-high instructor, was let go from the bilingual PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported the alleged insult.
She’s been unemployed ever since.
“They haven’t even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who’s black to be using a racial slur to a student,” said Shaun Reid, Smith’s attorney. “Talk about context! There’s a lot of things wrong here.”
The teacher took a sabbatical from teaching special education in 2005 to learn Spanish in South America, because she was passionate about learning the language in a cultural context, Reid said.
Smith was also accused of calling her students “failures.” But in court papers she claims that second insult was also a misinterpretation. Smith had allegedly asked students who had failed a test to move to the back of the room, but says she never called them failures.
According to the New York Post, she denied calling the student a “Negro” and explained to investigators she was teaching a lesson about how to say different colors in Spanish and said the word “negro,” which is Spanish for the color black. She told her students that it was not a derogatory term and that the Spanish word for a black person was “moreno.”
She added that she’d been verbally abused by her charges, including being called a “f—ing monkey,” a “cockroach” and a “n—er,” but had never stooped to their level.
A 2011 investigation substantiated the student’s undated claims based on accounts from four seventh-grade witnesses, even though the student’s own parents said he’d lied about the event.
But it’s even crazier than that.
What’s wrong with the word Negro?
Didn’t Martin Luther King use the term?
Do terms become racist over time?
Isn’t there an organization specifically designed to benefit American black students called the United Negro College Fund? Will that organization be deemed racist by the PC police now? What about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? Doesn’t that group, too, use an archaic racial term? Should Julian Bond be forced to rename his group because of new sensitivities by multiculturalists?
Do public schools need to stop teaching Spanish because blacks might be offended by the term negro, which simply means black?
What do decisions like this do to foster understanding between blacks who speak English only and Hispanics who haven’t yet been thoroughly indoctrinated in the latest politically correct forms of speech?
What’s the difference between black and negro anyway?
And I thought these new PC rules were designed to help minorities? The victim here was a black teacher who lost her job more than a year ago over an apparent misunderstanding by uneducated teenagers.
It sounds like a case of the inmates running the asylum.
But, then again, isn’t that what public education has become across the country?