EDUCATORS SHOULD READ: I had a real teacher moment today during lunch with 5 little Black boys at school. I’ve changed their names to respect their families privacy. Tony, Age 5 (Kindergarten) came up to me and said, “Mr. N, don’t be mad at me, but is this a bad word?”. I said, “What word?”. He said “Okay, but promise not to be mad”. I said, “Okay I promise”. He said, “NIGGA”. At first I thought to myself oh lord… then after a moment, in Kindergarten terms, I had a told him that we don’t say words like that at school, however I didn’t tell him it was a bad word. He told me that his dad uses it a lot around his friends. I told him that people use it in different ways, which makes it a little confusing, which is another reason why we don’t say it. Then I gave him a miniature history lesson on the origin of the word, and how it can be hurtful even if people older than him (like his dad) use it. I then asked him why he asked me that, and he responded by saying that Matt and Neil (ages 6 & 7, first grade) were saying it. They were all sitting in a group together. Matt, Neil, Tony, David, and Jonah. 5 little black boys. I called them all over, and I told them that I wanted to talk to them. I reassured them that they weren’t in trouble, but I wanted to talk. I took them into the gym and sat them down. I Asked Tony to tell everyone what I said, and why he thought it was important (communication and retention skills are important to instill at an early age, along with public speaking, and forming your own opinions). Tony told them what I said and why he thought it was important. Then I elaborated a little to make it a little more clear to them. I took my “teacher” hat off for a moment, and asked them to be honest with me. It was important for me. I asked them how the conversation started, and they told me it was because David and Jonah (Kindergarten) had asked about bad words, and Neil and Matt took it upon themselves to let them know every bad word they knew, including NIGGA. During the talk I reassured them that I wasn’t mad at them, Neil almost started crying as he asked me if I was disappointed in him. I wasn’t disappointed. I told them that as young boys, it is natural to be curious and I consider that a good thing. There are words that we don’t use at school, but if they are curious, they are always welcome to ask a teacher. I love those kids, and I’m happy that they were honest with me about the nature of the conversation instead of trying to get out of trouble. I respect them so much more now, and I hope that our little talk today does something for them in the future. Happy Friday.