“I’m proud of the students who took a stand and decided that they were tired of hearing racists things,” one parent said.
A substitute teacher at Farmington Hills High School was removed from the school Thursday after using a racist phrase toward a Black student.
The incident was captured on camera and shared online. The unnamed teacher’s comment prompted students to walk out and protest, according to reports.
In the video shared with WXYZ-TV, a woman is heard telling a Black student to “Get your cotton-picking hands off” an object he was touching in the classroom.
The term “cotton-picking” dates back to slavery in America, when enslaved people were forced to pick cotton on plantations.
“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,” said Keiona Turner, whose 10th grader attends Farmington High School in Farmington, Michigan.
The students from Farmington Hills High School immediately planned a walkout after the teacher uttered the triggered words. The video was quickly shared and students from nearby North Farmington High School reportedly joined the walk out of class. Videos shared on social media show students chanting “Black Lives Matter” while marching toward the school administration building in downtown Farmington.
“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,” said one student who spoke to WDIV-TV about the incident.
The teacher was removed from the classroom amid the outrage. The school district informed parents in a letter that she will no longer teach at the school again, or anywhere else in the district, per the report.
“We thank both the Farmington Hills Police Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department for assisting us with this effort,” Superintendent Christopher J. Delgado said.
“I’m proud of the students who took a stand and decided that they were tired of hearing racists things,” Turner said.
“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,” Delgado said.
The school district has reportedly made available counseling and social work support to help students and staff following the incident.
“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,” Delgado said, Patch.com reports. “Racism, whether implied or direct, whether in words or actions, has no place in any of or schools.”
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