Black Teens Essay Claiming White Teachers Discriminate Causes Outrage
Student claims black students aren't encouraged to learn
A Rochester student is calling for justice after writing an essay on Frederick Douglass that left some of her teachers upset, forcing her to leave school.
In the essay, Jada Williams, 13, linked discrimination back then to discrimination she perceives today saying, “Most white teachers that I have come into contact with, over the last several years of my life, has failed to instruct us even today.”
On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Williams.
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In it, Williams wrote:
“A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”
During an interview with Rochester ABC 13, Williams explained her confusion over the backlash from teachers who, as Williams and her family claim, began failing her. “I did feel overwhelmed because I didn’t know it would become this huge,” Williams said. The family felt they had no choice but to pull her from the school for fear she would never receive fair treatment from teachers who took Williams essay as an insult to their teaching. The teaching staff in Williams school district are predominantly white.
ABC 13 reports:
Wednesday, RCSD Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said he couldn’t comment on specifics, but did offer a broad statement.
“The teacher said she was offended, that is not an encouraging statement,” he said. “Of course, that’s not the best way to handle a situation like this.”
Vargas went on to say he was proud of Williams for speaking her mind, but didn’t agree with her core argument that race influenced a teacher’s efficacy, an issue that stands tall in RCSD, whose teaching staff is predominantly white.
“Teachers regardless of their color are able to teach us, that’s unquestionable,” Vargas said.
Carla Williams says she doesn’t disagree with Vargas, but says the issue isn’t about race.
“She’s 13 years old, it was just her point of view, her perspective and what she’s experiencing throughout the course of the day and if she’s seeing that her peers are not learning,” she said.