A permanent substitute teacher for Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans has been placed on leave while school administrators investigate a video showing the teacher confront a student over use of the n-word, reported The Times-Picayune.
Students of the school identified the teacher as Coach Ryan; however, Principal Patrick Widhalm has not yet confirmed his identity.
The video, recorded Thursday, begins in the middle of a tense debate between Coach Ryan and a Black student. During the discussion, the unidentified student repeatedly tries to explain why it is not appropriate for anyone to use the word.
“That’s racist as shit,” the student insists. “Why can you not understand that it’s racist for a white man to say ‘nigger’ to a Black man? It’s fucking racist.”
Coach Ryan then tries to reduce the student's anger by suggesting the word has been “commoditized” and no longer is offensive.
“It’s a word that’s used so many times that it doesn’t mean its original meaning,” Coach Ryan says. “The word has been commoditized so that anyone can use it, and it’s not a negative connotation.”
The student again tried to explain why he takes offense when a white person uses the word or any variation of the word.
“Nobody says ‘nigger,’” the teacher patronizingly says to the student.
“Don’t fucking say that,” the student emotionally says. “You can’t say ‘nigger’ or ‘fucking nigger.’ You’re my fucking teacher; don’t say that shit.”
Immediately after the class, several students went to Principal Widhalm to stage a sit-in. What followed has been described as an impromptu assembly and discussion about the incident.
"[The students had] a very good dialogue about the difficulties and the issues that still exist around race, around identity, around the things that aren't resolved," Widhalm told the Times-Picayune.
"When you're Black, it changes the whole way people perceive you and people look at you," the student said. He later added the experience is similar for women and people who are gay.
"Realize that it's not just a word when you say stuff like that. Realize all the charges and all the connotations it has in it," he added. "And just make responsible choices. If you're a teacher and you don't want to get fired, maybe you don't want to say this."
(Photo: NOLA.com via Youtube)