The teacher, Paul Dawson, told his student, Keysean Chavers, to "sit down, nigger" last December.
Chavers, a freshman at Valley High School
, is a Boy Scout, a football player, a member of the ROTC
, and an honor roll student.He
was standing near his
teacher's classroom door when Dawson
used the N word.In a disturbing television interview, the teacher admits he
used the word but said the student used it first.The student denies that claim, but even if it were true, does that make it right for the teacher?Dawson, the teacher, says he doesn't like the N word, but he distinguishes between "nigger" and "nigga," and he admits he has used the second version, a slang form of the N word, to feel more comfortable with black students.
In a rambling television interview, he
goes back and forth in justifying his
behavior on one hand and then apologizing for it on the other hand."Why is this word used so frequently?So I just don't understand it and I'm trying to understand it," he
said in the interview, adding, "I need help."
wasn't asking for help when he
sent a recent letter to the community defending his
bizarre missive, Dawson
referred to himself in the third person and claimed that he
was only used the N word to draw attention to the problem of its overuse in the public school system.
"This N-word problem didn't begin on December 2, 2005 at Mr. Dawson
's door with the broken window! (We never did find out who broke the window, did we, mystery fans?)," Dawson writes.Casting himself as a leader to clean up the language in school, Dawson
adds, "The cronies and parasites have done nothing to solve the problem!
When the reporter for WHAS TV
had used the N word, he
offered a slightly different explanation from the one in the letter.He
was simply responding to the student who had used the same word himself."I was just kind of stunned for a second and I said, 'Well then, get away from the door, niggah.' I repeated the same insult because that was sort of what I was trained to do," he
replied, "Upon reflection, that's not good." Dawson
was suspended for 10 days without pay from January 9 to January 23 and was ordered to go to diversity training, but the student involved was forced to remain in Dawson's English class.Keysean Chavers wants Dawson fired.
Dawson argues that he
should not be fired, in part, because he's
been with the school district for 20 years.But the local news team found that Dawson
has had other sensitivity problems in the past.Back in 1994, Dawson
was temporarily suspended from teaching for instructing a student to place a sign on another student's back that said, "I am gay."Dawson
apparently ignored the suspension and showed up at class the next day anyway.
Finally last week, Paul Dawson
was reassigned to a different position.Nevertheless, some students were upset about the move and shouted their support of the controversial teacher.
The N Word Is Out of the Bottle
No matter what happens to Paul Dawson
, the issue of the N word is not going away anytime soon.
...The English teacher, Paul Dawson, featured in the news story did not strike me as being a racist, or even remotely offensive.He
struck me as a fumbling, foolish, nerdy but misguided man who lacked insight and emotional intelligence.Amusing, not evil ... He
demonstrated a difference between 'nigger' and 'nigga'.One was a put down, the latter was an inclusive, tribal word used when addressing a 'peer'.Still, a teenager would not discern the difference and he
should not have called Keysean
I think Mr. Paul Dawson
just desserts.Not because he's a "white using a black's word", but because he's a teacher with poor judgement.