A Michigan father has filed a lawsuit against his daughter’s local school district, claiming that her civil rights were violated when her fifth-grade teacher read certain portions of a children’s book by Julius Lester, the noted civil rights scholar and author. The passages from the book apparently used the word “nigger” in them and discuss the buying and selling of slaves.
Lester’s book, From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, is intended to teach children about slavery in the United States. From the Amazon.com review:
Slavery is a difficult concept to address with children, especially because many adults would prefer to forget that period of American history. In From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, award-winning author Julius Lester takes older children (and adults) on an intense, personal journey through the slave experience. As he gently explains the factual horrors of slave-ship conditions, auction blocks, plantation life, and the risks associated with escape, Lester consistently prods young readers with probing questions: “How would I feel if that happened to me?” “Would you risk going to jail to help someone you didn’t know?” “You are free, but are you?” Lester also asks us to imagine the voices and feelings of the African Americans in the illustrations–another brilliant call for active participation.
Rod Brown’s paintings are achingly vivid, so much so that a few may be too powerful for younger children. Certain depictions are difficult even for adults to bear: a lynched man with the bloody blows of a whip marking his back; slaves stacked seven-high in the hold of a ship, packed onto shelves with less room than the drawers of a morgue; and black bodies bobbing in the ocean. These are horrible images, but nonetheless historically accurate and important to remember. Brown took seven years to create these startling images, and his careful attention is reflected in the paintings’ power and emotion. Children may be initially startled by From Slave Ship to Freedom Road, but they will also be engaged and enlightened. (Ages 10 to 13) (source)
Petree, of course, seems to have internalized the crybaby reflex that any time a black person hears the word “nigger,” a lottery ticket falls into his lap. Unfortunately, nobody taught this asshole that neither he, nor the African American community at large gets to own any word – not even “nigger.” Lets take a look at his legal arguments:
The school district violated the state Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by inflicting “intentional racial discrimination, disparate treatment and/or outcome, racial harassment, (and) hostile environment,” the lawsuit says. The district also intentionally inflicted “emotional distress, racial discrimination and racial harassment” as well as “retaliation for refusing to acquiesce” in committing those acts, the lawsuit says.
The actions “have proximately affected the conditions of learning duties and the advantages of her further education, and seriously affected her mental and emotional well-being, past, present and future.” (source)
If Petree’s daughter’s emotional and mental well being are damaged, there are likely only two causes — the legacy of slavery itself, which her dad seems to think she should not learn about, and the natural consequences of being the daughter of an abject tool.