A teacher in Bedford, Texas, thought it would be great fun if students in her sixth grade class had nicknames.
However, she assigned some of her students the name "Jighaboos," a misspelled version of an African-American racial slur.
It was only when the parent of a student complained the teacher apologized, saying she had no idea what the word meant, and agreed to change the name.
“You put Dream Team and then you have the J*******s. Really? Really with that?” the father, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Fox 4. “That’s, that’s unacceptable.”
A lot of racially charged connotations have now been so assimilated in our normal discourse that we overlook their actual meaning.
For instance, "long time, no see" was first used to mock the Native Americans’ grasp on English. The phrase "sold down the river" was a literal allusion to selling slaves across the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. In the delightful rhyme "Eenie Meeney Miney Mo," catch a tiger "by its toe" actually means enslaving a black man.
Just last year, a news anchor used the j-word while commenting on Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars:
“It’s usually so hard to hear her voice with all that — j****** music,” said Kristi Capel of Cleveland’s Fox 8. She promptly apologized for the gaffe, claiming ignorance of the word’s meaning.
That said, many find the teacher's justification behind the offensive moniker incredulous.
No excuse, Texas is very racist. A Texas teacher named her class the j-word. Her racial slur defense: ignorance. https://t.co/NKMJDjezj1— Bob Munoz (@bobmunoz) September 3, 2016
A TX teacher named her class the j-word. Her defense: ignorance. https://t.co/senqYRn0QC Bull. She knew it from somewhere. Google, dammit.— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) September 3, 2016
Texas teacher named class the j-word. Her racial slur defense-ignorance. Typical for Dallas-Fort Worth. Unacceptable https://t.co/Eski5FXiXq— Renee Obey, MD (@DrReneeObey) September 4, 2016
The Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District offered its apology to the parent who complained about the term, agreeing the name was inappropriate.
“[We] would like to extend an apology for the inappropriate actions taken by one of our elementary teachers who failed to vet a class name,” the school officials said in a statement. “We take this situation seriously and the issue was immediately addressed with the principal and classroom teacher. Both the principal and the teacher have apologized to the parent reporting this concern.”
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters