Florida teacher denies slave abuse, defends use of N-word in viral video
A series of TikTok videos filmed by a student features an educator reframing history in real-time
A Florida school district has opened an investigation after a series of viral videos allegedly showed a history teacher denying facts involving slavery and using the N-word during class.
According to News Channel 8, an unidentified Island Coast High School student recorded the lesson and uploaded the footage to TikTok. In the short videos, the teacher informed students that slave masters did not abuse enslaved people. They also claimed the N-word was a term meaning stupid or ignorant, not a racial slur.
“We’re going to have a conversation with you where I hold all the power and you hold none. That’s not fair,” said Community Advocate Earl Sparrow of the teacher’s behavior. Members of the school board have also spoken out about the event.
“We are very short of teachers,” said Gwyn Gittens, member of the Lee County School Board told News-Press. “I understand that, but we need to vet the few that we have to make sure that they’re doing what it is that needs to be done.”
She continued, “I’m not there to teach you how I personally, Gwyn Gittens, feel and what I believe. I’m there to give you facts and teach you how to dissect and pick it apart and look at it and define it and use it going forward in your future to make our world better.”
According to News-Press, the viral video is one of three which highlighted the unidentified teacher’s in-class behavior but only showed the student recording, not the instructor.
The first video recorded during the Advanced Placement class featured the teacher saying, “they wouldn’t do that to the slaves,” when a student mentioned slaves being whipped.
The student who recorded the video laughed and questioned the teacher’s claim. The teacher then threatened to kick the student out for their laughter and said their intention was “to have an honest conversation about it…That’s what I want. That’s what we’re here in AP for.”
According to the report, the second video is where the teacher speaks on the N-word and the third is a conversation on hate speech.
“The N-word just means ignorant. It doesn’t have any other meaning in any other vocabulary other than you are a stupid person. You are ignorant. You are not well-read. You are not well educated. That’s what it means,” the teacher told the students.
“At this time, it has been sent to professional standards to be investigated,” stated Debbie Jordan, chair of the Lee County School Board. “We are definitely investigating this, as we would anything that would come before us.”
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