White school teacher Lincoln Brown is suing Chicago Public Schools after he was suspended for using the n-word in front of his sixth grade class.
Brown had intercepted a note being passed while he was teaching, in which a student had written rap lyrics using the n-word. Brown says he wanted to seize the opportunity as a teachable moment, and engage his students on the history and implications of the word.
Brown’s principal happened to walk in during the ensuing conversation, heard Brown utter the n-word, and immediately began the process of issuing a suspension.
Brown says his first and fifth amendment rights have been violated by the suspension, and his reputation irreparably tarnished.
“Brown explains that he caught a student passing a note with a rap lyric that refers to another student using the n-word. He took this as an opportunity to get students thinking about how influential words and stereotypes can be in society, and did so through the lens of Huckleberry Finn. The principal walked in during the discussion, listened for long enough that Brown assumed his attention was that of support, and left to get the ball rolling on Brown’s suspension. He says that the accusation that he used the word inappropriately or had any racist intent behind its use is damaging to his reputation as an educator and ‘cannot be a part of who people think [he is]’
The School District claims that his suit is meritless, but Brown has garnered the support of students and colleagues and plans to both overturn the suspension and allow for a realistic approach to the use of the n-word in class.”
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