How did Southington High School educators misinterpret bullying behavior by Black students?

In a recent article, a former Southington High School Black student was disciplined for alleged bullying behavior that is associated with her ethnicity. It is this type of misinterpretations that continue to fuel racism in education. Southington High School educators need to become more sensitive to Black student behavior that could be misinterpreted as bullying.

According to the article, Black graduate says minority students can feel alienated at Southington High, a former student claimed that she was treated differently by administrators due to an alleged bullying incident.

According to Tia Jones, during her final year of high school, she decided to take an Advanced Placement Politics and Government course. During one classroom session, the class was discussing the American policy on LGBT issues. During the discussion, Jones explained to her classmates that “separation of church and state meant that while everyone was at liberty to practice a religion of their choice, those beliefs should not restrict another person’s right as an American citizen, including their right to marry. Some students agreed with Jones and others did not.

The discussion became heated between her and another student. After this class the school’s guidance department contacted the Jones family at home and alleged that her and another classmate were bullying another student. The resulting discipline was to silence her voice by providing her five minutes after class to voice her opinion. The responses from the Southington High School administration does not take into consideration the debate behaviors of Blacks that are often perceived as bullying.

This perception of bullying results from cultural insensitivity. Southington High School has more than 2,000 students for which only three percent are Black and ninety percent of the students are White. According to the personnel department, the school district has no minority principals or vice principals.

Debates are not designed to judge the cultural tendencies of the individuals involved. Debates are important in the learning process because teachers use debates in the classroom to help students grasp essential critical thinking and presentation skills. Among the skills classroom debates can foster are abstract thinking, citizenship and etiquette, clarity, organization, persuasion, public speaking, research, and teamwork and cooperation. Many of these skills are misinterpreted which can result in labeling Black students as facilitators of bullying.

What debate behaviors do Black students possess that the Southington High School administrators may have misinterpreted as bullying?

The difference in Black and White debating behavior can cause classroom argument between minority students and White teachers. For example, Blacks not only debate the idea; they also debate the person while Whites debate the idea rather than the person debating the idea. Blacks attempt to evaluate a person’s intentions during a debate by determining the meaning and value of a particular behavior or attitude. Furthermore, Black students contrast White middle-class communication when they speak over others’ voices and repeat the communication until they are responded to or until they have someone’s attention which can complicate the classroom debate process and make others believe that they are victims of bullying.

Cultural differences can affect teacher-student classroom relationships when debates occur in the classroom. Blacks and Whites ignore communication failures because Blacks and Whites assume they are communicating with the standards set by socially dominant Whites. For Whites, the purpose of an argument is to ventilate anger and hostility. However, Blacks distinguish the a debate regarding a difference of opinion and a debate used to ventilate anger and hostility.

Blacks communicate in debates by becoming high-keyed, animated, interpersonal, and confrontational while middle-class Whites communicate in debates by becoming low-keyed, dispassionate, impersonal, and non-challenging. The difference in Black and White debating behavior can cause classroom arguments between historically underserved students and White teachers.

Whites misinterpret Black intentions to solve a disagreement and do not believe Blacks want to solve a disagreement. Requests from a Black person to a White person maybe viewed as a demand rather than a request.

The misinterpretation of Black debate cultural tendencies is the cause for Southington High School administrators misinterpreting Black debating behavior as bullying. Southington High School administrators can eliminate these misinterpretations of bullying by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
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Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
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One Response to How did Southington High School educators misinterpret bullying behavior by Black students?

  1. Pingback: How should West Des Moines teachers respond to accusations of deep racial disparities? | Transforming the gap between student perceptions and teacher intentions

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