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Race issue

(42 Posts)
KimiTheThreadSlayingRocket Thu 05-Nov-09 11:07:31

Not really a AIBU but need advice on how to deal with this.
We live in a very "white" area and there is only one little girl in DS2s class who is from a Jamaican family.
It would seem (so said the teacher this morning) that yesterday this little girl ask DS2 to pass her a black pencil and DS2 said "you already have a black pencil" at which point the little girl burst in to tears and said DS2 was calling her black!!!!!!

Now the kids are 9 years old, the teacher has said he was party to this and ds2 did not call her black he said "you already have a black pencil" but the school have to deal with the girl being upset... and made a complaint!!

Um I think I may be missing the point but what exactly has DS2 done wrong here?
Despite living in a predominantly white area now I grew up in Brent and Wembley have lots of friends of all races that my children know , do I tell DS2 never to use the word "black" do I ask to speak to the school as I do not think DS2 should be in trouble for this.
I did make sure the teacher had got it right and DS2 had not said anything other then "you have a black pencil".

What do I say to DS2 when I get him from school? How do I address this...

KimiTheThreadSlayingRocket Thu 05-Nov-09 11:12:49


PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Thu 05-Nov-09 11:18:26

The school is being barmy IMO

Black is not a tude word; it's a description of an absence of light, a colour, no more. It does in some contaxts have massive associated meanings,many positive, many sadly negative, but these contexts are in no way related to your child in this case.

The girl bursting into tears was very sad, did he perhaps mishear it?, but nothing your child did caused anything to be concerned about.

If a complaint is made, i would make another one to the school about their handling of what is in effect nothing of any concern (at least relating to your son- may be that the girl has a history of being bullie which would of course need addressing and support).

New teacher panicking about something she has no personal understanding of?

ErikaMaye Thu 05-Nov-09 11:22:30

I posted on the Chat thread Kimi. Just had another thought though - I guess the school can't play it down, as if the girl went home to her parents, and said "Someone was racist and teacher did nothing" or similar, there would be an utter uproar. Total over reaction though. And give your DS a hug from me.

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 11:22:33

Sounds like there is some misunderstanding somewhere down the line. Obviously you do not need to tell your ds "never to use the word black".

Is he actually in trouble? I think you need to get the school to clarify. If the conversation was exactly as the teacher reported, then it should be made very clear that your ds is not to blame. If the teacher thinks there was more to it then you need to get to the bottom of it.

Perhaps there was something else that caused the girl to react as she did - she may have been subject to racist remarks before from her classmates so has become highly sensitized to this. Not your ds's fault, but might be worth reinforcing the facts about from racism, the suffering it causes, and why it is so wrong. If there is a possibility that this little girl is having to deal with racism at school then you would want to make sure that your ds would never be part of that.

KimiTheThreadSlayingRocket Thu 05-Nov-09 11:33:38

Thank you,
As far as I have been made aware DS2 said "you have a black pencil" and that was that.

Teacher is not new and he has been teaching for years.
He said he had spoken to DS2 about it yesterday, so I will have to wait and speak to DS2 this afternoon.

I just do not want him to think he has done wrong, I know the little girl and I wonder if I should speak to her mum.

PC gone mad.

DS2 is aware of racism, but I will speak to him again, should I speak to the teacher or the head and ask how/what is going to be dealt with

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 11:43:00

I would think you need to clarify this with the teacher. Has the girl say anything about it apart from bursting into tears?

Might be an idea to speak to her mum. Sounds like it could be more of an unhappy little girl issue than a PC gone mad issue.

verytellytubby Thu 05-Nov-09 12:14:02

It reminds me of going to school in Haringey and we weren't allowed to say blackboard etc. PC gone mad!

I'd speak to the teacher again after school and clarify the issue. Seems completely OTT and a mix-up.

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 13:03:29

What is OTT though? He hasn't actually been punished in anyway has he, or told not to say "black"? This doesn't seem like a PC issue at all to me. Am I missing something here?

ClaraDeLaNoche Thu 05-Nov-09 13:08:46

You're probably in a bit of a panic right now, but the school probably has procedures it has to follow, including an investigation which I presume is taking place right now. So once it is established what was said, I'm sure this will be marked down as a misunderstanding.

smee Thu 05-Nov-09 13:31:34

If your son is feeling accused and upset, then speak to his teacher and ask what happened. If the teacher agrees that your son mentioned the colour of the pencil and it was simply a misunderstanding, then you have to insist that this is cleared up as if left, in the little gir's eyes your son is racist, which is unfair to him and also to her. If it was a misunderstanding then the school's duty is to talk to her and make both your son and her feel okay about it.

MarshaBrady Thu 05-Nov-09 13:34:28

Sounds completely like a misunderstanding which has resulted in a little girl feeling sad.

I think it's fine for the school to check what happened. It will make your son and the little girl both feel better if it is cleared up.

MillyR Thu 05-Nov-09 13:41:24

I am not sure what you mean by 'made a complaint.'

As far as I understand it, as a result of the Equality Act, schools have to keep a record of racist incidents. It is not up to the school to decide if the incident was really racist or not; if any person present (in this case the crying girl) perceives the incident as racist then the school must record it.

That does not mean that your child has done anything wrong or in any kind or trouble or in any way actually is a racist.

It is just a record that the school has to make.

I wouldn't worry about it.

Rollmops Thu 05-Nov-09 14:03:47

This is so sick.... to say it's PC gone mad would be understatement of the centuryangry.
How, HOW on Earth is the statement "you already have a black pencil" racist, to be recorded under Equality Act as a racist incident????????????? Please, Milly, do clarify.

theyoungvisiter Thu 05-Nov-09 14:10:01

It's not sick rollmops - it's just a question of investigating and making sure EVERYONE concerned understands what happens.

In some cases that might be making sure a child understood that the word they had used thoughtlessly was racist.

In other cases it might be making sure that a child understood that what they believed to have been hurtful, actually wasn't.

Hopefully in Kimi's son's case it will be the latter.

Either way this needs to be sorted out, not brushed away, or the little girl will believe she has been badly treated. It's equally important for Kimi's son that it's all resolved so it's clear to everyone, including the girls' parents he has done nothing wrong.

If the school punishes or suspends Kimi's son, THEN you can say it's "sick". Up to that point, why not hold back on the angry red faces?

Kimi, sympathies to your son, it sounds scary but if the teacher backs up his version I'm sure he has nothing to worry about.

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 14:11:08

Calm down, rollmops. Surely not enough information here to warrant that kind of response. The op hasn't even spoken to her ds about the incident yet.

This little girl evidently thought that the OP's ds had said something racist to her and it upset her enough to make her cry. Looks like it was a misunderstanding, but the school is not wrong to record it. How would you feel if it was your dd?

Meandacat Thu 05-Nov-09 14:13:48

I think Milly R is not trying to imply that that phrase "black pencil" is racist but to the fact that this little girl perceived it (whether rightly or wrongly) as racist, and it is this latter than means it has to be followed up.

I'd be interested to know how the parents of this little girl handle it. Will they jump blindly to their child's defence, or treat it as an unfortunate misunderstanding?

Incidentally - not wanting play devil's advocate here. But did the little girl actually already have a black-coloured pencil? If not, then there may be further explaining to do.

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 14:21:04

Yes, I must admit I wondered that about the pencil, meandacat. But perhaps she had a broken one or something.

KimiTheThreadSlayingRocket Thu 05-Nov-09 17:00:06

She did have a black pencil already, The teacher has said it was not a racist remark and hopefully that will be the end of it and not a mark against DS2

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 05-Nov-09 17:06:55

Good! That must be a relief.

junglist1 Thu 05-Nov-09 20:05:21

I'd be fuming. Tell your DS he's done nothing wrong and if you hear another word about it you'll be writing stiff letters all over the place. There are kids who learn racist attitudes from their parents unfortunately and this is what needs to be dealt with. Why would a nine year old cry because of what your son said. Is she one of these manipulative drama queen types?

smee Thu 05-Nov-09 20:11:29

junglist, that's a bit harsh isn't it. As you said she's only nine.

DuelingFanjo Thu 05-Nov-09 20:13:07

I am confused at why anyone would think calling someone black was upsetting or why anyone would tell a child not to use the word black?

smee Thu 05-Nov-09 20:13:15

sorry, meant to add that OP says she's the only black kid in the class, which means her family's in a minority too, so maybe they've experienced some racism. Wouldn't be all that surprising now would it.

junglist1 Thu 05-Nov-09 20:16:11

I know 5 and 6 year old girls wily enough to get others into trouble. One girl told my son and others to do chinese slitty eyes at a chinese boy and my son did it, not fully understanding as we're not in the habit of that sort of thing. The girl went and told the teacher and I got a letter home. The school got bollocked and I made a complaint about Miss Precious

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