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Florida Teacher Calls Racial Slurs She Hurled At High School Student A ‘Joke’

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Florida Teacher Calls Racial Slurs She Hurled At High School Student A  Joke  raghead taliban 280x156 pngOne of my least favorite responses to calling out someone’s offensive statement is this one: “Calm down, it was just a joke!” As if there can’t be any sting in hateful words when they’re delivered as part of a punchline. As if jokes aren’t used all the time to reinforce existing power structures. As if joking is some sort of magical “Get Out Of Consequences Free” card. And when the response of, “It was just a joke!” comes from a teacher who’s been verbally harassing one of her students, something has gone seriously, seriously off the rails.

Having gone to Teacher School myself, I cannot say that I remember studying a unit called “Do Not Make Fun Of Your Kids’ Religion And/Or Ethnicity, Oh My God What Is Wrong With You That We Even Need To Say This”. But maybe that’s something more educational training programs need to include, based on the news from Weston, Florida. Yes, instead of a ‘Florida Man’ story, today’s special is a ‘Florida Teacher’ tale. Buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Weston parent Youssef Wardani alleges that Maria Valdes, a French teacher at the local high school, has made a habit of calling his son Deyab-Houssei Wardani a ‘Taliban’, and on one undoubtedly memorable occasion when he was wearing a hoodie, a ‘raghead Taliban’. Wardani found out about what was going on at school when his son came home from school and asked him what a Taliban was. I’m sure that was a fun conversation (“Did you have a good day at school, son? Because now we need to talk about racism and it’s going to be kiiiiind of a downer.”), as was the meeting Wardani had with Valdes and school administrators about the situation. As Wardani told the Florida Bulldog:

“Her apology was robotic and empty and rehearsed […] She said it was an innocent joke and then started rolling her eyes and was huffing and puffing when I asked her questions.

Yeah, there isn’t much about calling a Muslim student an ethnic slur that reads as an ‘innocent joke’ to me. Islamophobia is real, and it’s not funny. Especially when coming from someone in a position of authority over this young man and his classmates. That Valdes could say something so vile and then play it off as just some innocent ribbing would be astonishing, if I still had the emotional capacity to be astonished by the evil things people think are worth laughing at.

Wardani is asking for the teacher to be fired or suspended without pay. And while administrators initially said the best he could hope for was a weaksauce letter of reprimand in her official file, the district school board is expected to have something more along the lines of a week suspension and mandatory diversity training in mind. The disciplinary hearing is expected at the board’s March 17 meeting, and in the meantime, you can keep an eye on the family’s Facebook page to see what their status is.

(Image: Facebook)

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