I was there in the hearing with Madison Metropolitan School District’s Human Resources Manager on Monday when Marlon Anderson, educator/security guard/outstanding Madisonian, met with them. Anderson is the African-American security guard who has been terminated from Madison West High School because he allegedly used a racial slur while defending himself from a student using the same slur.
I am so glad Marlon is fighting this. MMSD needs to modify this lazy, harmful and hole-punched policy that allows it to avoid doing the real work that any HR department should do by looking at the context in which such a word (or any other) is used. They are an academic institution and should be educating themselves and young people about the use of words like the N-word, not running from it.
MMSD also needs to look up the meaning of a “slur” in the dictionary. A slur is defined as an “insulting or disparaging remark” that is “shaming or degrading” to someone. Telling a student, who was repeatedly calling him a “Bitch as N****” and “Ho Ass N****” to “Stop calling me a n*****, I’m not a n*****…Stop calling me that” should not get you fired from your job. In Marlon’s case, the word was not used as a slur. It was not used towards anyone. He was simply telling the student to stop calling him that. After I told MMSD, in the meeting on Monday how their policy was inappropriate and unfair given how it doesn’t take context into consideration at all, no one in the room looked like they disagreed with me.
Marlon spent 12 years in MMSD. Who will replace him and the strong relationships and familiarity he had with students and staff? I also want to add that last year I helped a white female teacher get another teaching job after she was given the option by MMSD to resign or be terminated (she resigned) after she used the N-word as means to try to correct a student who was using racist language in class. She shouldn’t have been let go either. She happened to be one of my daughter’s favorite teachers who actually connected with and inspired her students, and kept parents informed. Our school system should not be in the business of destroying people’s careers because they don’t want to do the hard work of looking at each incident “independently and objectively,” as they should.
I also have a lot to say about why a young Black male in MMSD would be walking the halls as a high school senior cursing out staff while only having 5 high school credits. Why are we continuing to pass children through our school system who have not yet achieved an adequate level of proficiency to succeed academically in future grades? High school senior? Five credits? Really? SMH.
By the way, I visited an awesome public school in Atlanta called Hollins Innovation Academy yesterday where 99 percent of the children are Black and 100 percent live in poverty. This 750-student Pre-K-to-Grade 8 school, led mostly by Black women and a largely Black female teaching and support staff, said they would never take the type of steps Madison is taking. They have high standards for their faculty, staff and students, but would not be punishing our children or educators like we do in Madison. We can do better, Madison! We have to do better, Madison!
Marlon should get his job back plus back-pay. Sometimes leaders have to admit they made a mistake rather than hide behind the mistakes they’ve made. It feels like that is what MMSD is doing here. They committed to a flawed policy that was reactionary and not well thought through. Please fix this ASAP! Onward.