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A White teacher in a high school in Farmington, Michigan, says, “Get your cotton-picking hands-off” to a Black student. The students immediately walk out after the teacher vomits her racial slur.

However, immediately after using the racial slur, the teacher tries justifying her comments.

The White Teacher’s Explanation

“That kind of comment is a very common comment. It’s a very innocent comment.” The teacher says she didn’t mean her words to be offensive toward the Black student. She adds, “In listening to your, what the ‘grubbling’, what you’re saying to me, I can understand now why it might be. But, it [isn’t] meant to hurt people’s feelings.”

The Student’s Disbelief in the Teacher’s Comments

“I don’t think I comprehended what she had said, and then, she repeated it,” the student at the end of her racism says. “And then she says, ‘it’s an old saying that we used to say.’ And so, I [ask], ‘ who do you think they said it to?”

Videos of the incident between the teacher and student are now circling the internet.

The incident occurred Thursday morning between the White teacher and Black student, district leaders say.

Parents say the use of racial slurs from teachers at the high school doesn’t surprise them.

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“We are tired, we are tired,” Keiona Turner, the mother of a 10th grader attending Farmington, says. She says racism has worn her down, especially after watching the video taken at her son’s school.

The outrage over the racial slur led to the removal of the teacher from the classroom. The school district notified parents in a letter that she will no longer teach at the school or anywhere else in the district.

Turner says she’s proud of the students who are taking a stand and deciding that racism isn’t welcome at their school.

The Context Behind the Racial Slur 

The Black mother gives historical context on why the teacher’s comments are racially insensitive. “We have known that our ancestors have had to pick cotton. We are in the north, so there wasn’t much cotton picking up here. So, this is something that had to be ingrained in this person,” she explains.

The ‘cotton-picking’ phrase dates back to institutional slavery in America. Racists use it as an insensitive derogatory remark toward Black Americans.

What Students Are Saying about the Racial Slurs

“Racism is just, it’s not good for anyone. Let’s be honest here. Like when she can say that type of thing and think that there’s nothing wrong with it. ‘Cause that will affect me for the rest of my life even if I’m not even thinking about it — it’ll be in the back of my mind, subconsciously,” says one Farmington High School student.

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Superintendent Christopher J. Delgado’s Response

“We thank both the Farmington Hills Police Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department for assisting us with this effort.”

“While we can conduct background checks and fingerprint for substitute teachers, we cannot screen for what’s in their hearts and minds. If you harbor racist feelings and do not embrace our diversity as a strength, do not apply to Farmington Public Schools.”

“The school is working hard to support anyone who was hurt, troubled, or concerned by this incident, and we will continue dedicating ourselves to eradicating this type of behavior.”

“Racism, whether implied or direct, whether in words or actions, has no place in any of or schools.”

The racial slurs, insensitivity at Farmington High school come during a time when anti-diversity in curriculum legislation is passing at a record number across the US.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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