(Daily Mail) – A white sixth grade teacher is suing his Chicago school district, school and principal after he was suspended for using the N-word in front of his students.
Lincoln Brown, a teacher at Murray Language Academy, claims the word was used to confront racism following the interception of a rap song written by one student to another calling her the N-word.
He saw it as an opportunity to turn an inappropriate moment into ‘a teachable’ one.
‘The whole lesson basically was about racial profiling, racism and also being very careful about how you use words in public,’ Mr Brown told ABC.
‘I looked at it and it had some words in it that were very offensive to me and that’s when we came into this discussion of the N-word,’ he said.
Mr Brown instead used the word in full as part of the discussion.
He defends his lesson as coming directly from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that fights hate and bigotry, borrowing their curriculum that advises how to address problems like the one he was having.
He said he thought it best to address the situation rather than avoid it.
During the discussion which he said thoroughly engaged all his students, his principal, Greg Mason, entered the room staying for about 10 minutes before stepping out.
He was gone for about another 10 minutes when he returned again right where the students’ discussion had turned to racial stereotypes in movies.
‘I brought up Spike Lee’s comments about rap music and racial profiling in movies and, ironically, I thought I was being fully supported [by Mr Mason],’ Mr Brown said.
His students told him they enjoyed the class and for two weeks, he never heard a comment following from his principal.
Then Mr Brown was called into his office.
He was accused of misconduct, abusing language in front of his students among other charges and told he would be suspended from his position for five days as punishment.
Unsuccessfully appealing to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education following the notice of suspension in November, Mr Brown still wouldn’t back down, choosing next to file a lawsuit against the school district on Thursday.
‘It’s something I can’t accept and can’t have on my record and more importantly, it’s not who I am,’ he said.
Mr Brown says he grew up as the racial minority in his own schools and went on to teach at predominantly black schools for over 25 years.
With his parents deeply involved in the civil rights movements, his first name’s the namesake of the American president, Abraham Lincoln.
On Friday Mr Brown began serving the first day of his five-day suspension.
‘The teacher has received sufficient due process,’ district spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler told ABC in a statement following his appeal to the Office of Employee Relations.
‘In our opinion,’ she said in her statement, ‘his federal lawsuit is without merit.’
‘This can not be part of who people think I am,’ Mr Brown said in a press conference following, appearing emotional. ‘My character has been assassinated.’