Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Racist Assignment

"It's too much work. That's racist."

It was a large assignment. They were supposed to do definitions, notes, section reviews, and problems. (8th grade science: the section was on molecules and compounds.) The assignment encompassed two chapters, each having two sections apiece. I would have been surprised if any of them were able to finish.

But racist?

Certain students throw out the racist card frequently, and this student fit the stereotype. He was in the isolation seat. He did little work. I had to keep after him to keep him in his seat, to keep him from bothering others, and to keep him from disrupting the class.

When I questioned his assessment ("How can the science work be racist?"), he pointed out the racial make up of the class. Since there weren't any white students, the teacher was clearly being racist against the class by giving them too much to do. Then the student proceeded to count the number of minority students (who were in the majority in the room).

The accusation was ridiculous. The assignment had nothing to do with the racial make up of the class. I attempted to explain that there were white students in other periods, and they were getting the exact same assignment. The student didn't believe me, and he continued tallying the various Latinos, African-Americans, and others (I think we had a Pacific Islander or two).

The student population is fairly racially diverse. I don't pay much attention to race, or at least I try not to. Today, it had nothing to do with the difference between a compound and a mixture. The student didn't see it that way.

I walked away from the student after reminding him that he needed to get his work done. He continued counting the students of various races. The rest of the class ignored him.

At the end of the period, I glanced at the student's notebook. He had barely done two questions. I was not surprised.


  1. Some people will use anything as an excuse not to work. There's no use arguing, either. Good luck if you run into him again.

  2. Of course he's going to do two questions. He's not doing a racist assignment! Two questions was just the right/non-racist amount.


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