Prejudice in the classroom by Imani Hicks

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Preface: Prejudice and bias should never step foot in the classroom. This is retribution for all the production ( I  and II)  students who were declared  “too ethnic” or “ not natural enough” for the role by our southern,  instructor Mrs. A (Whose job was supposed to consist of teaching, not judging based off of personal preference).

 “You had an amazing audition, but I don’t think you’re natural enough for the role”- Mrs. A

“Your voice is too ethnic to play the Fairy Godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein musical version of Cinderella” or “I can’t cast you if you don’t look like Cinderella” - Mrs. A

Your previous prejudice accusations confuse me.  Could you elaborate on the matters at hand? You say I’m not natural enough when my audition brought tears to the eyes of your so called “favorite” students.  I have experienced the blessings and curses that love etches into your being; I know the emotions highlighted in Juliet’s monologue too well, the scene came naturally to me.  I lived in the perfect balance on stage, a moment in space where overacting and underacting romanced one another passionately. I never broke the fourth wall, I followed the rules you gave me performance wise. I had an amazing audition. So….. The only conclusion I can draw is that you were not commenting on my performance, but something more physiological.   All I can comprehend from your previous statement is because my shade stands out against those of my fellow students; I would look out of place on stage with them. Telling me my skin is too mahogany to be considered Romeo’s Juliet is an insult, a bias, and an injustice!  

 The indigenous Africans, Native Americans, West Indians and Mexicans watered my family tree daily. I am borne out of ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity! In a room full of Juliets who lack color, I’m one of twenty who does not. I wouldn’t fit in “enough” for you is what I can conclude from your weak evaluation. If you graded my skill rather than the phenotypes before your biased eyes, those words would have never roared from your lips. Show me where it is written in the curriculum that teachers can judge off of preference alone, without acknowledging skill level. Mrs. A! You can’t show me, it’s not written there. You robbed me of chances I no longer have the time to obtain. Your job was to educate not discriminate and belittle. My race, skin, ethnicity, and origin should not be factored into my grade.

 I hate the way you patronized me. Telling me my role had  no correlation to my racial background. If that is true, why did my roles involve serving the characters my uncolored peers portrayed? You never casted me as the superior! I hate the way you tried to justify your actions. Telling me Hollywood does the same .I was unaware we were using the same judging scale as Hollywood. I had not been informed we moved to Hollywood, I thought Productions I and II took place in a classroom. I hate the way you made me and my fellow classmates of color feel inadequate, undeserving, and untalented. Telling us, with words correlating to race and ethnicity, we did not meet your standards for the role. In the beginning I thought you were using your discretion as a teacher, but then I realized you kept using the same words and statements each time. “Too ethnic, not natural enough, you don’t look the part.”   I needed you to teach me, help me, and nourish me, so my abilities could grow. Instead you left me malnourished, in the background, offering only enough lines to be seen for a split second. The only reason why you gave me any lines at all was too prevent others from thinking you were racist. As a teacher, it goes against your honor and the school policies to discriminate, make biased decisions, and give prejudice remarks. The day I spoke to you about the way you cast me an apology never rolled off your tongue to lull my injustices to sleep. What rolled off your tongue were ten words I’ll never forget. “I can’t be racist, my son in law is black”- Mrs. A. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt a few times, but your asinine responses occur too frequently to be categorized as blatant naivety!  Instead I filed your comments into the filthy, neglected, bottom draw of discrimination in your “Hollywood” office. The comments you hastily gave me are ignorant, dishonest, unintelligent, and unethical.  If I had a nickel for every blundering decision or commentary you shared with me, I could own a fortune 500 company! Mrs. A, I only wanted to be educated by you, rather than spoon-fed discrimination and belittled day by day for something as trivial as the color of my skin.

            

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