A Texas teacher is on administrative leave after being taken in by a student who shared his racist ideologies in the classroom.
In the video, which is now going viral on social media, a white male teacher at Bohls Middle School in Pflugerville, Texas, told students he believed his “race was superior.”
A video of the interaction has been viewed more than 2.5 million times on Twitter.
The school district has called the conversation “inappropriate,” and it has unsettled some parents and angered others. It has also sparked debate on social media about the complexities of discussing race in the classroom on social media.
The Pflugerville Independent School District has not identified the teacher or released the full scope of the conversation.
“Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is superior,” the teacher says in the 57-second video.
Some students in the class respond with laughter.
“So white is better than anything?” asks the student, who appears to be holding the cell phone recording the interaction.
“Let me finish,” replies the teacher. “I think everyone thinks that. They’re just not being honest about it.”
“But I’m not a racist. I like all kinds of styles,” replies one black student.
“So you said you are what? You are racist,” asks another student.
“I think everyone is racist at that level,” the teacher replied.
The student then asks the teacher to repeat himself, but the teacher says he “said it enough”.
“I actually respected you for a while, but now I have no respect for you,” said the first black student.
The boy’s mother later identified him as Mello on social media. Atlanta Black Star has reached out to mom, Janae Hardy, for comment. Hardy did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but said she will make sure someone is held accountable.
“I don’t allow that at all and the bad thing is that the school still hasn’t contacted her,” she wrote, “but the news got the information first.”
dr Pflugerville Independent School District Superintendent Douglas Killian said the interaction “is not consistent with the district’s core beliefs.”
“Video of the conversation contains statements that we believe are totally inappropriate,” he said in a statement.
“Pflugerville ISD and Bohls MS work together to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for our students. The advisory work was inappropriate, inaccurate and unacceptable. This type of interaction will not be tolerated in PfISD schools,” it said.
Brian Hennington, who has a child who attends Bohls Middle, said the conversation was in bad taste.
“There are other personal experiences that we’ve had as people of color that we’ve had individually, but seeing that in the classroom is just not acceptable,” Hennington told KVUE-TV.
However, commenters on social media pointed out that although the discussion was inappropriate for a middle school class, the teacher’s remarks were based on some facts.
What is ethnocentrism?
The Cambridge Dictionary says ethnocentric is the belief that “the customs and traditions of one’s race or nationality are better than those of other races”.
Merriam-Webster defines ethnocentrism as “the attitude that one’s group, ethnicity, or nationality is superior to others”.
The teacher’s comments weren’t “right, but that’s the reality,” wrote one Instagram user. “This conversation would be better done in a university setting in a debate class,” she added.
“Because we all believe that our kind is superior,” the user also said.
Twitter user @KingsupremeM wrote: “I know what he’s getting at and he’s right. Deep down we all think that our specific race is better. People might not want to admit it. He didn’t say he didn’t like other races. Besides, this isn’t a conversation he should be having with these kids.”
While race is a social construct, social scientists say that ethnocentrism can develop when one group judges another’s culture based on its cultural ideals. It occurs when someone believes their culture-specific practices are “natural” or “right.”
However, social scientists argue that the concept differs from racism, which is prejudice based on prejudice formed from negative stereotypes. There is a positive side to ethnocentrism, some argue.
Cultural anthropologist Sheila S. Walker said that affirming her ethnocentrism is a way of acknowledging her “being African American,” and she expects “that others would, too.” I see anyone’s failure as an attempt to deny who I am, where I come from, my culture.”
“While I share general U.S. culture, the version of it that belongs to me most closely is specifically African-American in a society where people of African and European descent have had radically different historical and contemporary experiences,” Walker wrote in an essay republished in the Journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists.
Walker still points out that there are conflicting views about the line between ethnocentrism and racism.
“It is important to get away from a position in which ethnocentrism, the awareness of ethnic and cultural differences and the conscious appreciation of one’s own ethnic peculiarities, is in fact also racist. This is a dual and complementary process. First and foremost, the fundamental fact must be recognized that no culture is inherently superior to another,” she wrote.
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/11/15/white-texas-teacher-suspended-superior-race-what-is-ethnocentrism/ White Texas teacher suspended after telling middle school students his race is ‘superior’; Sparks alternative conversations among adults